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REV. WILLIAM M; TAYLOR, D.D., | SiS>- I '53>6. 


«• <*•** - - -• . 




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Entered according to Act of Congress, in tKe year 1875, by 

Harper & Brothers, 

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 

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TO read a part of the Old Testament in the iight of the 
New, and to discover in it, when thus treated, not only 
a portion of the history of the past, but also the explanation 
of much that is in the present, and the prophecy of more 
that is in the future, is the aim of this book. 

The story of Elijah is one of thrilling interest. There is 
a shadow of mystery, and yet a mien of majesty, about the 
hero which so affects every reader that he is almost apt to 
forget that the Tishbite was, after all, "a man subject to 
like passions as we are.'' I have endeavored, by setting the 
prophet amidst the surroundings of his Jtge and comparing 
him with the reformers of other days, to bring him so near 
to us that we may hear the throb of his great heart, and 
catch the inspiration of his life. I have not attempted to 
conceal his failings, but have sought everywhere to draw 
from his conduct the lessons most appropriate to our mod- 
ern circumstances. 

The kind reception given to " David, King of Israel," has 
encouraged me to send forth this new work ; and if it shall 
awaken any to earnest study of the Word of God, or give 
direction and support to any perplexed or fainting spirit, I 
will be devoudy thankful. 

Broadway Tabernacle, December ^d^ 1875. 


x*^ ^ . JAM -41917 ^''^^^*^^- 

"^i £7> >N, 

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I. The Startling Message 7 

II. By the Brook 23 

JII. The Barrel and the Cruse 38 

IV. Death and Resurrection 52 

V. Re-appearance 69 

VI. The Conflict on Carmel 87 

VII. Prayer and its Ans7ver loi 

VIII. Under the juniper-tree 116 

IX. Abel-meholah 133 

X. Naboth^s Vineyard 147 

XI. Fire from Heaven 164 

XII. The Ascension 179 

XIII. lilijah on the Mount 195 

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I Kings xvii., i. 

ISRAEL was at this time in a most deplorable condition. 
Its rulers had caused the nation to err ; and as one king 
after another disappears from the scene, his character and 
history are summed up by the sacred chronicler in the 
words, " He did evil in the sight of Jehovah after the man- 
ner of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin." 
This is the sad refrain continually recurring in the national 
annals, and each time it is repeated it reveals a blacker depth 
of wickedness than before. Of Omri it had been said that 
" he did worse than all that were before him ;" but it was 
reserved for Ahab to inaugurate a new species of iniquity, 
more revolting than any which the ten tribes had committed 
since the date of their rebellion against the son of Solomon. 
This, monarch was by no means the weakling he is com- 
moply supposed to have been. Now and again, indeed, his 
whole nature seems to have been, for the time, paralyzed un- 
der the operation of what Maurice has described as "a trou- 
blesome conscience, checking an evil will ;"* but in general 
he manifested those qualities which have secured for other 

* "The Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament," by F. D. Maurice, 
p. 129. 

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8 Elijah the Prophet. 

kings the title "great." He was brave and successful on 
the field of battle. Once and again he vanquished the army 
of the proud Ben-hadad ;* and at last he met his death while 
fighting valiantly, though in disguise, at Ramoth - gilead.f 
This personal prowess was combined in him with a love of 
art and a desire to promote the commercial prosperity of his 
people. He made streets for himself in the great trading 
city of Damascus. $ He reared for himself a palace of ivory, 
and was, besides, the founder of several cities.§ But all this 
outward magnificence was dimmed by a darker shadow of 
iniquity than that which fell on the glory of any of his pred- 
ecessors. Thus if is written concerning him : " It came to 
pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the 
sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jez- 
ebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went 
and served Baal, and worshiped him. And he reared up an 
altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Sa- 
maria. And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to 
provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings 
of Israel that were before him."|| 

There is thus a clear distinction drawn between the sin of 
Jeroboam and that of Ahab. It is intimated that,' as the son 
of Nebat took a new departure from the worship at Jerusa- 
lem, when he set up the golden calves at Dan and at Bethel ; 
so the son of Omri took a new departure from the practice 
of Jeroboam, when he built a temple and set up an altar to 
Baal. The act of Jeroboam was, in the main, political. He 
foresaw that if the tribes who had chosen him to be their 
king continued to go to Jerusalem to attend the three great 
annual 1*eligious festivals, the spiritual union would speedily 
overcome the political division. So he established separate 

* I Kings XX., 21, 29. t Ibid., xxii., 34. | Ibid., xx., 34. 

§ Ibid., xxii., 39 ; Amos iil, 15. || Ibid., xvi., 31-33. 

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The Startling Message. 9 

centres of worship at Bethel and Darr; and knowing the crav- 
ing of the heart for some visible emblem of the divine glor}', 
he set up the Egyptian symbol of the calf. He could not 
have the real shechinah, but he did set up an outward rep- 
resentation ; and his particular selection of the calf may be 
traced to the iirfluence upon him of Egyptian ideas conse- 
quent upon his long residence as an exile in that land. But 
he had no desire to give up the covenant claim of the people 
on Jehovah. Indeed, he would not have admitted that he 
had ceased to serve Jehovah. His view of the case was that 
he was serving Jehovah under the symbol of the golden calf; 
and therefore the sin which he committed was not a viola- 
tion of the first commandment, but of the second. He had 
not a thought of worshiping any other god than Jehovah ; 
but he guiltily made to himself and to his people an outward 
symbol to represent Jehovah. That was bad enough ; but 
the guilt of Ahab was greatly more heinous, for 'he abjured 
Jehovah altogether, denying his exclusive claim to deity, and 
repudiating any thing like a covenant relationship between 
him and Israel. 

He thus dethroned Jehovah, and on the vacant seat he 
placed Baal and Ashtaroth, the two divinities of the Zido- 
nians. These were the deities of the old Canaanites, for 
their homage to which these ancient tribes were driven out 
to make way for the descendants of Abraham. Hence, the 
adoption of their worship by the ten tribes was a total apos- 
tasy from Jehovah, and a return to the ancient idolatry of the 
land. It w^as not merely a violation of the second command- 
ment, in that there was an image of Baal in stone, and of 
Ashtaroth in wood ; but it was also a breaking of the first 
commandment, in that it involved the repudiation of Jeho- 
vah, and the adoption of another god in his room. And so 
Ahab, who introduced this new sort of idolatry, did worse 
than all that had Sfone before him. 

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lo Elijah the Prophet. 

Now, these two deities, Baal, the male, and Ashtaroth, the 
female, represented the fertilizing and productive principle 
in nature, and their worship was that of power. To the 
more cultivated and refined, it was simply a species of Pan- 
theism ; to the multitude, it was what one has called " the 
worship of deified abundance, under a splendid and sensu- 
ous ceremonial ;"* or, as Maurice has put it, " The worship 
of Baal was the worship of power as distinguished from right- 
eousness, "t Hence, the apostasy of Ahab in giving up the 
personal Jehovah, the covenant God of Israel, and the cre- 
ator and preserver of all things, and preferring Baal, was 
analogous to, if not, indeed, precisely identical with, the mod- 
ern heresy of those who discard a personal God, and refuse 
to believe in him who is a loving father, while they deify nat- 
ure under the name of law. Thus this old history has a 
special appropriateness to the present time, and we may prof- 
itably ponder for a little the record of the manner in which 
the efforts of Ahab were counteracted and neutralized. 

The introduction of Baal-worship into Israel was part of a 
deliberate plan on the part of Ahab. He wished to strength- 
en himself to the fullest extent against his Syrian enemies, 
while, at the same time, he developed the material resources 
of his country by an alliance with the Zidonians, who held 
the sea-board. If he could only succeed in welding Israel 
and Zidon together, he felt that he could defy the dynasty 
of Damascus, and look forward to a time of great prosperity 
from a participation in the unrivaled commerce of the Phoe- 
nicians. But there is no unifying influence so strong as that 
of religion. Hence he determined to carry the nation over 
bodily into the Zidonian worship ; and, as the first step in 
that direction, he allied himself to the royal house of Zidon, 

* "Elijah." Four University Sermons, by Walter W. Shirley, M.A., 
Oxford, p. 20. 
t "The Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament,'* p. 128. 

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The Startling Message. h 

by marrying Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the 

Thus, if I have read the record aright, his worship of Baal 
was not the result of his marriage with Jezebel, but his mar- 
riage with her was the consequence of his determination to 
establish Baal-worship throughout his dominions. For po- 
litical reasons, Jeroboam set up his calves ; and now again, 
for political reasons, Ahab determines to convert the nation 
into worshipers of Baal. In this effort he found Jezebel 
a most efficient and unscrupulous assistant. She was the 
daughter of one who, being himself a priest of Baal, had, as 
Josephus* tells us, murdered his own brother in order to gain 
the crown ; so that he was both priest of Baal and king of 
Zidon. She inherited both the religious fervor of the priest 
and the unscrupulous cruelty of the man. She united in her- 
self the strongest intellectual powers, the fiercest passions, 
and the fieriest will, while her moral sense was hardened al- 
most into insensibility. With her, " I dare not " never wait- 
ed upon " I would ;" and, no matter what stood in the way of 
the attainment of her designs, she would trample down every 
obstacle, and press forward, even through " a mire of blood,'* 
to the object of her ambition. She may be regarded as the 
Lady Macbeth of history ; only, as it seems to me, there was 
less of "the milk of human kindness" in her breast than the 
great dramatist has put into that of his striking creation ; 
and Jezebel would not have come back, shivering, with the^ 
ch-y dagger in her hand, saying, " Had he not resembled my 
father as he slept, I'd done it." Without the least misgiving 
she would have plunged it into the sleeper to the hilt ! With 
such an ally, the Baal mission made great progress. The 
people, indeed, were largely ready for such idolatry. Their 

* "Antiquities," viii., 13, i ; contra Appion, i., 18. In the latter cita- 
tion we identify Ethbaal with Ithobalos. 

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12 Elijah the Prophet. 

hearts had long been set on outward magnificence and pow- 
er ; and so, in accepting Baal for their god, they only gave 
their outward homage where they had long been giving their 
inward adoration ; and the mass of the community made no 
complaint when they saw well-nigh a thousand priests sup- 
ported from the royal funds.'* A nation which could see 
unmoved the rebuilding of Jericho in defiance of the curse 
pronounced by Joshua upon him who should again set up its 
gateSjt had evidently swung very far from its allegiance to 
Jehovah, and would not hesitate to follow the example of the 
court ; for, as all colors are alike in the dark, so any religion 
is indifferent to him who cares nothing for religion at alL 
There were, indeed, some faithful among the faithless ; for 
even after a bloody persecution, seven thousand remained 
who had not bowed the knee to Baal, and among these were 
a hundred prophets who had hidden themselves in a cave4 
But the majority — belonging to that class so well described by 
M. Prochet§ as " having the religion of * I don't care,' " and 
as having this characteristic, that, while they would not erect 
the gibbet or the scaffold for others, they would by no means 
face either for themselves — followed the court, and saw with- 
out remark the emissaries of Jezebel go through the land, 
overturning the many altars which had been erected to the 
one true God, and hunting down the stern old covenanters 
of their day, who would not give homage to the Zidonian 

So, on the whole, the transition had been made with ease 
and success ; and Ahab and Jezebel might be sitting in their 
Jezreel palace of ivory, congratulating themselves on the skill 
which they had shown, when, sudden and terrible as a clap 
of thunder from a cloudless sky, there swept in before them 

* I Kings xviii., 19. t Ibid, xvi., 34. J Ibid., xviii., 4; xix., 18. 
§ In his address at the Evangelical Alliance, New York, October, 1873, 

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The Startling Message. 13 

a weird-looking man, with long, flowing hair, a mantle of a 
sheep -skin round his shoulders, and a rugged staff in hi^^ I 
hand ; and before they could ask him who he was, or why 
he had come thither, he had flung the gage of defiance at 
their feet, and said, "As Jehovah the God of Israel liveth, 
before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these 
years but according to my word." Then, this message given, 
he vanished like an apparition. "It was," as Wilberforce 
has said, "like the flash of the lightning, sharp as a blazing 
sword in its sudden vividness, but not tarrying for a moment, 
revealing every thing, and gone as it reveals it."* Who was 
this strange, uncourtly, and defiant visitor ? All we know of 
him up till this time is expressed in the words, " Elijah the 
Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead." No flourish 
of trumpets ushered him into the presence of royalty ; and, 
in Hke manner, no herald precedes him on the sacred page 
to proclaim his parentage, or tell the story of his early life. 
He is the " Melchizedek " among the prophets, " without fa- 
ther, without mother, having neither beginning of days nor 
end of life, abiding a prophet continually." And all this is 
in keeping with his rugged character, his abrupt and start- 
ling appearances, and the stern work he had to do. We 
know something of the early history of Moses at the court 
of Pharaoh, and we read with interest the narrative of little 
Samuel's sojourn at the tabernacle in Shiloh ; w^e have a 
glimpse of Elisha at the plow, and of Amos following his 
herd, ere yet they were called to carry the message of the 
Lord to the people of the land. But the boyhood and youth 
of Elijah are unknown. He comes here as suddenly into 
view as if he had just descended from the clouds, and clothed 
himself with their thunder as he came ; or we might almost 
fancy that he had at that moment alighted from the chariot 

* " Heroes of Hebrew History," by Samuel Wilberforce, D.D., p. 328. 

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14 Elijah the Prophet. 

of fire, which, tarrying for him in the heavens, was to bear 
him ultimately from the earth. ' 

In the absence of all other details, we are glad to make 
the most we can of his name and designation. Elijah means 
" My god is Jehovah ;" and this, whether given him by his 
parents or assumed by himself, was in striking accord with 
the mission on which he was sent. The very mention of it 
was a solemn protest against the Baal-homage of Ahab and 
his court ; and every repetition of it would be to the prophet 
himself a new reminder of the truth which he had to pro- 
claim, and of the strength by which he would be upheld. 

He is called also "the Tishbite." This is supposed by 
some, rather artificially, as I think, to mean " reformer ;" by 
others, it is thought to be derived from the place of his res- 
idence or of his birth. But we do not know certainly that 
there was such a place as Thisbe ; and if there ever was, it 
is now impossible to identify it, so that here again we are in 
the dark. The probability is that his youthful days were 
spent in the obscurity of some mountain village, and in the 
humble lot of poverty. But this is not unusual in the his- 
tory of God's most distinguished servants. We have spoken 
already of Amos and Elisha; can we forget in the same con- 
nection a higher than either, even the Lord Jesus himself, 
who was for a time a Galilean carpenter? The strongest 
^ trees are found, not in sheltered nooks, but in the most 
exposed places, where sweeps the full fury of the storm; 
the hardiest flowers grow, not in the hot-house, but on the 
mountain - side, in close proximity to the glacier and the 
snow; and God's grandest heroes are taken, for the most 
part, not from the lap of luxury or the home of affluence, 
but from the dwelling of penury, and the abode of obscuri- 
ty. Their very struggles have developed strength ; and the 
difficulties which they have been forced to encounter have 
quickened inventiveness and inspired resolution. 

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The Startling Message. 15 

But Elijah was "of the inhabitants of Gilead." And this, 
too, may have had some influence in producing that rugged 
strength which we discern in his character ; for, surely, the 
scenery on which one daily looks has much to do with the 
formation of the man. There is a difference between the 
hardy Swiss and the effeminate Italian ; and in the grizzly 
visage and patient endurance of the Scottish Highlander we 
can see something of the heath -clad granite of his native 
hills. Now, Gilead, on the eastern side of the Jordan, was a 
land much like theirs. " It was," says Mr. Grove, " a coun- 
try of chase and pasture, of tent-villages and mountain-cas- 
tles, inhabited by a people, not settled and civilized, like 
those who formed the communities of Ephraim and Judah, 
but of wandering, irregular habits, exposed to the attacks of 
the nomad tribes of the desert, and gradually conforming 
more and more to the habits of those tribes. To an Israel- 
ite of the tribes west of the Jordan, the title Gileadite must 
have conveyed a similar impression, though in a far stronger 
degree, to that which the title Celt does to us. What the 
Highlands of Scotland were a century ago to the towns of 
the Lowlands, that, and more than that, must Gilead have 
been to Samaria and Jerusalem."* 

Such a one, then, was Elijah, as he stood before Ahab. 
He wore no court dress; he spoke in no polished phrase; 
but, like a sturdy Quaker, he refused to give any reverence, 
and, with his thees and his thous^ his faithful warnings and 
his awful threatenings, he struck terror into Ahab^s soul. 
He was such stuff as iconoclasts are made of, and he com- 
bined in himself many of the distinctive excellencies of the 
chief reformers of the sixteenth century. The courage of 
Luther, the plainness of speech of Latimer, the devoutness 
of Calvin, and the " perfervid " impetuosity of Knox, were all 

* Smith's " Dictionary of the Bible ;" article Elijah. 

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1 6 Elijah the Prophet. 

united in the character of this man of God. 'Yet was he "a 
man subject to like passions as we are."* There were deep 
springs of tenderness in his soul, and there were shadows of 
weakness cast even by the greatness of his strength. Still, 
take him for all in all, he stands alone among the prophets, 
overtopping them all in the rough vigor of his manhood and 
the unflinching courage which his faith in God inspired. 

But now let us look at his first utterance before Israel's 
king. Every clause of it is significant, and as each came 
out, it must have cut keenly into Ahab's soul. "As Jeho- 
vah the God of Israel liveth." This is an oath, and in the 
mouths of many men it would have been simply and only 
profane; but Elijah is very far from taking the name of the 
Lord in vain. His words had a peculiar appropriateness to 
the circumstances of the hour. "Jehovah liveth." Ahab 
was a worshiper of Baal, the abstract representative of pow- 
er, an impersonal attribute, a blind principle ; and, in oppo- 
sition to all that, Elijah declares that "Jehovah liveth," a}', 
and that he liveth as " the God of Israel." The king had 
repudiated the covenant which the Lord had made with Is- 
rael. He had chosen to affirm that there was no Jehovah, 
and, by consequence, that there was no covenant ; and now 
Elijah, in the first words he utters, gives the flattest contra- 
diction to all these notions : " Jehovah the God of Israel liv- 
eth ;" " Before whom I stand "—here is another statement of 
the personality of God. It is not only that Jehovah exists 
in some far-away corner of the universe, where he takes no 
interest in the aflairs of men or in the operations of nature, 
so called, but that he is here, and that I am now in his pres- 
ence, delivering his message, sustained by his strength, and 
protected by his power. He has sent me hither j he is with 
me here ; he will accompany me hence. Think not, there- 

* James v., 17. 

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The StARTLiNG Message. 17 

fore, to follow me with thy spying minions ; dream not of 
putting me to death by force or stratagem. I stand before 
Jehovah, and I wear a charmed life until my work is done." 
"As Jehovah liveth, there shall not be dew nor rain these 
years but according to my word." He thus perils the proof 
of the existence of God and of his covenant relationship 
to Israel on the coming of drought and its continuance, un- 
til he spoke the word for the return of rain. It was a terri- 
ble judgment which he thus denounced ; but it was one that 
would come home to every inhabitant of the land, and would 
prepare every heart for yielding to the truth that the provi- 
dence of Jehovah extends to all the operations of nature and 
all the events of history, and thus would strike at the very 
root of that idolatry which had become so dominant among 
them. Ahab believed in Baal and Ashtaroth, which, in the 
very loftiest view that could be entertained regarding them, 
were an ideal representation of the productive powers of nat- 
ure ; but Elijah would show him, and his people with him, 
that those powers which Baal symbolized were effective only 
through the personal operation of Jehovah. God would for 
the time withhold his hand, to let them see that it was by his 
constant agency that the dew and the rain did come ; and 
thus he would teach them to confide in himself as the per- 
sonal, living, loving Jehovah, " who upholdeth all things by 
the word of his power," who is above all, and over all, and 
in all. By a terrible privation he would teach them the 
doctrine which Jesus sought to impress upon his hearers by 
his loving words : that Jehovah is the director of all things, 
great or small ; that a sparrow can not fall to the ground, 
or a rain-drop descend from the clouds, or a globule of dew 
form upon a blade of grass, without him ; and so he would 
lead them from the worship of mere external force in the 
material universe to affectionate trust in the Divine Father. 
By miracle, in the sense of a break-in upon the regularity of 

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1 8 Elijah the Prophet. 

nature, he would lead them up to the perception of that con- 
tinuous miracle, that constant agency of the personal God, 
by which even the ordinary processes of nature are carried 
on. Thus the question in dispute between Elijah on the one 
hand, and Ahab on the other, was the same as that which is 
in many quarters in debate to-day. It was the personal ex- 
istence of Jehovah and his covenant relation to his own peo- 
ple, as opposed to that cold materialism which refuses to rec- 
ognize any thing but force, or law, or power, and which re- 
pudiates all special providence. In the name of the living 
as against the lifeless ; in the name of the personal as op- 
posed to the impersonal ; in the name of the loving Father 
as distinguished from inexorable and impassive law, Elijah 
proclaims that there should be neither dew nor rain, and he 
hinges the truth of his assertions as to Jehovah on the ful- 
fillment of his prophecy. Let the present generation give 
good heed to the result ! For the Lord God of Elijah liveth 
yet, and he will not be mocked or repudiated with impuni- 
ty. Men slight the Old-Testament Scriptures, and when we 
preach to them from these ancient records, they sneeringly 
bid us remember that we are living in the nineteenth centu- 
ry; but, lo! in these venerable annals we find "the inter- 
pretation of modern facts," and the antidote to modern er- 
rors. The naturalistic philosophy of to-day, which makes so 
much of laws and forces, and refuses to acknowledge God, is 
but a variety of the Baalism of Ahab ; and it, too, will find 
its Elijah to repeat its demolition. 

But now, leaving the prophet to the guidance of Jehovah 
as he passes out from the presence of Ahab, let us linger a 
few minutes longer to gather up one or two practical lessons 
from the history which we have thus rapidly reviewed. 

Let us remark, in the first place, how insidious is the 
growth of sin, whether it be in the heart of an individual or 
in the history of a nation. Behold the idolatry of Israel, 

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The Startling Message. 19 

full-fledged and unblushing, in the Baalism of Ahab. But 
how did it begin ? Away back in the time of the Judges, 
there was an Israelite, named Micah, who engaged a wan- 
dering Levite to become his priest, and set up a private 
chapel in his house, with images, and an ephod, and all the 
accessories of worship. When the Danites came to spy out 
the land, that they might choose a place in which to colo* 
nize, they visited Micah, and got his Levite to consult his 
oracle for them ; and then, some months after, when a whole 
company of emigrants went from the South, they took this 
priest and his images with them, and carried them away to 
Dan.'* Thus the people of that city became accustomed to 
image-worship ; and so, when Jeroboam revolted from Solo- 
mon's son, and desired to set up separate religious centres 
for his subjects, he chose Dan for one of them. 

For sixty years that state of things had existed, and the ten 
tribes had repaired to Bethel and to Dan, instead of going, 
as formerly, to Jerusalem. But the change of ritual wrought 
a disastrous change in the people. It weakened their spir- 
itual perception ; it lowered their moral tone ; it deadened 
their consciences. Hence, they were just in a condition to 
be drawii away by the gorgeous worship and licentious and 
immoral rites of Baal and Ashtaroth, and so they fell an easy 
prey to Ahab's schemes. That which their fathers would have 
strenuously opposed in the days of Jeroboam, they meekly ac- 
cepted in the days of Ahab. But it is ever so. The nature 
of evil is to increase. Hence, alike as individuals, as con- 
gregations, and as communities, we should withstand the be- 
ginnings of iniquity. Indulgence in one sin blunts the con- 
science, and prepares the way for another which at first would 
have been sternly resisted, and that, in its turn, makes the 
soul ready for yet another. "A little leaven leaveneth the 

* Judges xvii., xviii. 

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20 Elijah the Prophet. 

whole lump." The admission of one sin into the heart is 
like the reception of the Grecian horse into the Trojan city. 
It brings with it the germs of many more. Its name is 
" Gad " — a troop cometh. One evil tolerated in a church will 
soon generate many others. One disreputable thing permit- 
ted or sanctioned in the state will speedily produce a numer- 
ous progeny. All sins are near akin, and wherever one en- 
ters, communication is opened with all the rest. The little di- 
vergence from rectitude which is begun as a policy, because 
it seems to be required for some important end, will, by-and- 
by, develop into more heinous iniquity. So, if we would pre- 
serve ourselves from yielding homage to Baal, we must resist 
the worship of the golden calf. Mammonism prepares the 
way for materialism. The deification of worldly success by 
our mercantile Jeroboams leads on to the worship of law by 
our philosophic Ahabs. This was the course of things in 
ancient Israel ; and he who cares to look around him may 
see the same leaven working at this hour. 

Let us observe, in the second place, how, when God has a 
work to do, he finds a fitting agent to do it. If all men were 
alike, there could be no special adaptation in any man for 
a particular work; and no one individual could have the 
power of molding or influencing his age by his intellectual 
or spiritual force. On the other. hand, since men are not 
thus alike, if there were no superintending Providence, the 
right man might not always come at the right time, or be 
sent to the right place. As Wilberforce has said, "A great 
poet might be produced when a great general was wanted, 
or a wonderful financier might be given to a horde of sav- 
ages."* But there are no such mistakes made in the provi- 
dence of God. When the hour strikes, the man is ready, ay, 
even though it may have taken many years to fit him for the 

♦ "Heroes of Hebrew Monarchy," p. 319. 

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The Startling Message. 21 

work. Elijah was prepared when it was time for him to ap- 
pear. When the Gospel was to be given to the Gentiles, 
Paul, whose whole early training had been an unconscious 
preparation for his special mission, was called for the pur- 
pose ; and when the fullness of the time had come, Luther, 
already fitted for the work by his experiences, sprung up to 
nail his theses to the church-door of Wittenberg, and chal- 
lenge Rome to do her worst. Nor is this all. The man who 
has the work to do is the right man to do it. Had Elijah 
been one who wore soft raiment and dwelt in kings* palaces, 
he could not have roused Israel as he did. Had John the 
Baptist been begloved and fashionable, dealing in silken 
speech and soft attire, he would never have stirred the men 
of his generation to repentance. His mission, like that of 
Elijah, needed a fearless, blunt, undaunted man, who was not 
afraid to call things by their common names, and such a 
man God made him in the desert. We often hear slighting 
remarks on the great Reformers, as if they had been too stern 
and rugged in their bearing ; and Knox especially has hard- 
ly been forgiven by the readers of romance because he made 
Queen Mary weep. But in their days men had stern work 
to do, and a woman's tears are not so costly as a nation's 
blood. We had not been as we are to-day if it had not 
been for their sternness. True, their manner would not have 
suited bur. age y but they were not sent to our age ; and they 
were made, not only for their work, but by it. God needs 
his Luthers as well as his Melancthons ; his Pauls as well 
as his Johns ; his Latimers as well as his Leightons ; and 
we may as well find fault with the sweet-brier in the hedge 
because it is prickly, and because it is not the violet in the 
garden border, as complain because God's people in one 
age and in one department of his work are not so polished 
and refined as those in another. The carpenter has tools 
of various fineness and with different edge. The plane 


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22 Elijah the Prophet. 

would be as useless for felling trees as the axe would be for 
smoothing the surface of some valued piece of wood; Each 
is best for its own work ; and so in the great providential 
and gracious work of the advancement of God's Church, 
each agent is most admirable for the work he does. In- 
stead, therefore, of criticising the harshness of the Reformers, 
let us endeavor to find out what our particular mission is, 
and let us give ourselves to that with all our might. 

Finally, let no one be deterred from doing what he believes 
to be his duty because he is alone. As we shall see, up to 
the time when Elisha was called, Elijah was for the most 
part without any coadjutor. He dwelt apart. He stood by 
himself. Yet God was with him, and he did valiantly. Had 
he waited until he could persuade some fellow-man to go 
with him into Ahab's palace, I do not think that he ever 
would have entered it. But he went in God's strength, and 
he spoke his message with all boldness. Let no one be dis- 
mayed, therefore, because he is only one ; for one man with 
God in him and with him is " multitudinous above all human 
majorities," and will and must succeed. Not that the might 
is in himself— he is only one— but he furnishes a medium 
through which the might of God, which is omnipotence, may 
come in contact with the evils of his age. Thus he is 
"mighty through God to the pulling- down of the strong- 
holds " of iniquity. If, therefore, there be any stirrings in 
any one to-night toward the doing of some needful work, let 
him not wait for some fellow-man to accompany him ; but 
let him go forth to it himself alone, taking with him this gra- 
cious promise : " One man of you shall chase a thousand, for 
the Lord your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath 
promised you." 

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I Kings xvii., 2-6. 

AVING delivered his startling message in the audi- 
ence of Ahab, Elijah left the royal presence as abrupt- 
ly as he had at first appeared. We have no record of what 
occurred after his departure, between the monarch and his 
courtiers ; but we may suppose that though for the moment 
they were awed into solemn silence by the prophet's weird 
aspect and dreadful words, they would, at his exit, break out 
into a shout of laughter at the whole affair ; for it is the man- 
ner of such men to pass from the extreme of terror to that 
of derision. The first emotion of the king was, perhaps, 
that of indignation, forming itself into the purpose to thrust 
Elijah into the dungeon, as, in after-days, he did with Micai- 
ah ;* but the rapid movement of the prophet rendered any 
such design abortive ; and so, baffled in his intended ven- 
geance, he would affect to look upon the whole thing with 
contempt. " Tush !" he might say ; " 'tis but some mapiac 
who has breken loose," and in a few days the occurrence 
would be forgotten. But when the rainy season came, and 
the sky above continued cloudless, blazing like burnished 
brass with the red glare of the fiery sun ; when, month after 
month, no dew-drop sparkled on the withered grass ; when 
the fountains refused to flow, and the rivers dried up in their 
beds, and grim, gaunt Famine began his desolating march 

* I Kings xxii., 26, 27. 

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24 Elijah the Prophet. 

across the land ; then Ahab and his court would think upon 
the Tishbite, and recall his awful words. 

At first, indeed, there might be little feeling of alarm, for 
hope is ever strong in human breasts. Though the rain was 
long in coming, the people would still expect it in its sea- 
son, and now and again some aged man would cahii their ris- 
ing fears by telling them of some similar occurrence in his 
younger days, when, after all, the rain came at as late a date 
as that, and the harvest was as good as usual. But when the 
whole rainy season had gone by, and no right shower had 
fallen to refresh the thirsty land ; when the grass had become 
blackened and destroyed, as if some prairie-fire had passed 
over it with its scorching breath, then the cry awoke in the 
palace, and was echoed in every quarter of the land, " Where 
is Elijah the Tishbite ?" They sought him east and west, 
and north and south ; they sought him in the towns and in 
the desert, on the mountain-sides and in the lonely valleys ; 
in Gilead and Judea, in Israel and Zidonia ; yea, wherever 
they heard that any one answering to his description had ap- 
peared, thither Ahab sent a messenger,* in the hope that he 
might prove to be the prophet. But all search was vain, for 
the Lord had hidden him ; and not until it was time for him 
to strike another blow, would Ahab be permitted to look 
upon his face. 

Even as he left the palace of the king, " the word of the 
Lord came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee 
eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is be- 
fore Jordan." It is almost impossible now to identify the 
locality which is here described. Three opinions have been 
held by scholars regarding it. Some place it on the eastern 
side of the river Jordan, and suppose that it was one of the 
" Wadys" of Elijah's native Gilead. Others believe that it 

* I Kings xviii., lo. 

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By the Brook. 25 

was the valley of one of those brooks which run into the Jor- 
dan from the range of hills upon its western side ; and of 
those who are in favor of this opinion some prefer the Wady 
Fasael, some the Wady Kelt. This last is that which Rob- 
inson and Porter think to be the valley of the Cherith ; and 
as, whether they are correct or not, the valley in which the 
prophet was concealed must have been one not unlike the 
Wady Kelt, I shall quote to you the description which Por- 
ter has given of it. " No spot in Palestine is better fitted 
to afford a secure asylum to the persecuteci than the AVady 
Kelt. On each side of it extend the bare, desolate hills of 
the wilderness of Judea, in whose fastnesses David was able 
to bid defiance to Saul. The Kelt is one of the wildest 
ravines in this wild region. In some places it is not less 
than five hundred feet deep, and just wide enough to give 
passage to a streamlet like a silver thread, and to afford 
space for its narrow fringe of oleanders. The banks are 
almost sheer precipices of naked limestone, and are here 
and there pierced with the dark openings of caves and grot- 
toes, in some one of which Elijah may have lain concealed. 
It opens into the great valley ; and from its depths issues a 
narrow line of verdure into the white plain ; it gradually 
spreads as it advances, until it mingles, at the distance of a 
mile or more, with the thickets that encompass Riha, the 
modern representative of Jericho."* 

Into this valley, or a valley like it, Elijah went. But let 
no one suppose that he went thither because he was afraid 
of any consequences that might come upon him, for the bold 
message which he had carried in God's name to Ahab. He 
went to Cherith because God sent him thither ; and, in taking 
up his abode in his rocky cavern, he was serving his Master 
as faithfully as he was when he entered the palace of Jezreel 

* Alexander's " Kitto's Encyclopaedia," vol. i., p. 484. 

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26 Elijah the Prophet. 

to confront the king, or when he stood upon the summit of 
Carmel and put to shame the worshipers of Baal. 

Here is a lesson which we may well take to ourselves. In 
this busy, bustling age, we Christians, catching somewhat the 
spirit of the times, are apt to imagine that God can be served 
only by public labor. We talk so much about " working for 
Christ" among the poor and ignorant and degraded, that 
sometimes, I fear, the sentiment of despondency is awakened 
by our words in the hearts of those who, by some cause or 
other, are for the time unable to exert themselves thus pub- 
licly in advancing the Redeemer's kingdom. But God has 
different departments of service, and sometimes he may send 
us to a place of solitude, just that we may render to him the 
homage of quiet waiting and loving patience. Jesus was 
pleasing the Father, and advancing the great work of our sal- 
vation, as really during his forty days' sojourn in the wilder- 
ness as when he taught in the Temple courts, or preached to 
the multitudes upon the mountain -side. John the Baptist 
was " fulfilling his course " as truly when he was in the des- 
ert as after he had shown himself unto Israel. Paul was 
serving his Divine Master as faithfully when he was in prison 
as when, in Ephesus, he taught in the school-room of Tyran- 
nus ; and so when, in the providence of God, we are sepa- 
rated from our fellow-men, either by space or by that which 
is just as thorough an isolater — peculiar personal experiences 
— let us not, therefore, imagine that we are not doing our Fa- 
ther's will. Not now, indeed, does Jehovah speak to us, as 
here he did to Elijah, and none of us may pretend that he 
has heard the Lord saying to him, " Go here," or " Go there ;" 
but yet he leads us as really by his providence as he directed 
Elijah by his word ; and when we are laid aside from active 
usefulness, and consigned to the solitude of a sick-chamber, 
let us not fret ourselves with the thought that we are there- 
by disqualified for working for his glory. Our work, then, is 

Digitized by 


By the Brook. 27 

to be quiet, and to manifest patience under his hand. Into 
such a Cherith valley, all rugged and dreary, God sent John 
Milton when he sealed his eyes in blindness ; yet the poet 
was .not thereby led to think that he could do nothing for 
his Lord. Nay, for out of the darkness of his trial he sung, 
like the nightingale, his song of trust and peace — after this 
fashion : 

" When I consider how my light is spent 
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, 
And that one talent which is death to hide. 
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent 
To serve therewith my Maker, and present 
My true account, lest he, returning, chide ; 
* Doth God exact day labor, light denied ?' 
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent 
That murmur, soon replies : * God doth not need 
Either man's work, or his own gifts : who best 
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best ; his state 
Is kingly ; thousands at his bidding speed, 
And post o'er land and ocean without rest ; 
They also serve who only stand and wait.' " 

Yes, thou son of sanctified genius, we thank thee for the 
words, "They also serve who only stand and wait." Who- 
soever thou art, therefore, whom God has sent into some 
lonely Cherith, take to thyself the comfort of these noble 
lines. Wait ; and as thou waitest, drink of the brook that 
is purling at thy feet ; for though thou canst not do much 
now, thy waiting will discipline thee, and so prepare thee to 
do more hereafter. 

Thus, at least, it was with Elijah here ; for we may not cut 
off this period of his history from that by which it was suc- 
ceeded, and we must believe that he was fitted, in a large 
measure, for his after-work by the meditations and devotions 
to which he gave himself in this solitary place. It is in se- 
cret that God performs his mightiest works. No eye has 

Digitized by 


28 Elijah the Prophet. 

looked into the great laboratory of Nature, wherein are min- 
gled those elements that go to produce the effects which are 
constantly appearing; and it is in solitude, away from the 
busy haunts of men, that Jehovah works the greatest won- 
ders of his grace. When Jesus sought to open a blind man's 
eyes, he " led him aside from the multitude ;" and when, in 
the instance before us, God conducted Elijah to this lonely 
valley, be sure that he opened his servant's eyes to many 
things which before had been invisible to him. We may 
not err, perhaps, if we affirm of him at this time what a liv- 
ing writer has said of the true poet : 

** He saw thro' life and death, through good and ill, 
He saw thro' his own soul. 
The marvel of the everlasting will, 
An open scroll, 
Before him lay."* 

In any case, we may surely declare that, in his long sojourn 
in this rocky retreat, Elijah drank from another stream than 
that which rippled at his feet, even from the river of the wa- 
ter of life, that flows from beneath the throne of God. He 
was never alone. Every thing around him talked to him of 
God, and God himself communed with his soul. Thus was 
he strengthened and trained for the work that was before 
him ; and if we would ever succeed in doing any thing great 
for Christ, we must seek often to be " alone with God." In- 
deed, if God through us intends to do something signal for 
the glory of his name and the good of our fellows, he will 
somehow contrive to have us for a long while with himself, 
that he may shape to us distinctly the high ideal which he 
means us to realize. It was thus he did with Moses and 
with Paul, with Elijah and with John ; and thus will he dis- 
cipline for special usefulness those whom he will yet employ. 

* Tennyson. 

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By the Brook. 29 

Only let us notice this : it is riot solitude alone that fits the 
soul for service, but solitude filled and brightened and dis- 
pelled by fellowship with God. The man that is alone with 
himself has, probably, the worst of all companions ; he who 
is alone with God has certainly the best; and when he joins 
his fellow-men, they see on his very countenance the reflec- 
tion of the glory on which he has so long been looking. 

But let us pass on, to look at the promise which God gave 
to Elijah in connection with the command to proceed to Che- 
tith. . "And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook ; 
and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there." The 
Master whom Elijah served " sendeth no man a warfare on 
his own charges." If he set one out on a pilgrimage, he will 
put a staff into his hand, and will support him in the way. 
If he call one to suffer for his sake, he will sustain him by 
his grace, and cheer him by his favor. And so in regard 
to temporal matters as well as spiritual, if he require one of 
his children to do a certain thing, he will provide for him 
those resources which are needed for the doing of it. Hence, 
having ordered Elijah to Cherith, he promises to provide for 
his wants. It might be that there was no miracle in the 
continuance of this mountain torrent ; and, indeed, it seems 
clear that there was none, for by-and-by it failed ; but there 
was the miracle oi presciencey in the assurance here given to 
Elijah, inasmuch as it implied, on the part of him who gave 
it, foreknowledge that the brook would continue to flow long 
after the others were dried up. Nor was this all : the care- 
ful observer of the ways of Providence will not fail to note 
the fact that the stream which ran so long was in a hid- 
den retreat where no one would think of seeking for the 
prophet " Whoso is wise, and will' observe these things, 
even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord."* 

* Psalm evil., 43. 

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30 Elijah the Prophet. 

But more wonderful is the latter part of the promise : " I 
have commanded the ravens to feed thee there." So won- 
derful, indeed, is this pledge on the part of God to his serv- 
ant that many have staggered at the words, and have attempt- 
ed to bring another, and, to them, less improbable, meaning 
out of them. It happens that the term here translated 
" ravens " is rendered by the word " merchants " in Ezekiel 
xxvii., 27, and some have wished to take it in this sense here. 
Others, changing the vowels of the Hebrew word — which, with- 
in certain grammatical limits, they may do, if it be imperative- 
ly required, since they are not of any higher authority than 
that of the Masoretes in the fourth century — would take the 
term to be Arabs, or inhabitants of a town called Arabah, 
whose existence and location, however, are purely hypothet- 
ical. But neither of these opinions can be rested in for any 
length of time by the intelligent Bible-student ; and it is not 
without considerable amazement that I find one of them 
advocated by a writer who has done so much for the illus- 
tration of the Scriptures as Dr. Kitto. Still, the term can 
not here be understood as " merchants," since the site of the 
Cherith must have been far removed from the course usually 
followed by caravans or traveling companies. Neither can it 
mean inhabitants of Arabah, since, in accordance with all He- 
brew analogy, if such people had been intended, they would 
have been called, not " Orebim," as the word is here, but 

But the most serious objection to all these views remains 
yet to be stated. The great purpose of God in sending Eli- 
jah to Cherith was to conceal him for the time from Ahab, 
and the people of Israel. Now, to provide for him by mer- 
chants, or by the inhabitants of a town, was to peril that con- 
cealment. A secret may be safe in the keeping of one or 
two ; but when it comes to be known to companies, or the 
people of a city, it is sure to be divulged by some one. Espe- 

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By the Brook. 31 

cially would it be certain to leak out when, as in this case, 
the personal interests of all the inhabitants of the land seemed 
to be involved in its publication. We can understand the 
stories told in Scottish glens of the shelter given to the Cov- 
enanters, even by those who did not quite agree with their 
principles ; for though they ran a certain risk thereby, they 
did not directly lose any thing by screening them. But here 
the whole nation was suffering from drought and consequent 
famine ; and according to the statement of him who threat- 
ened them in God's name with these calamities, they could 
not be removed until he again gave the word. Hence, ev- 
ery inhabitant of the land had a personal interest in dis- 
covering and making known his retreat. To suppose, there- 
fore, that in these circumstances companies of merchants, or 
the dwellers in a certain town, could keep the secret of it 
to themselves, in face of the particular reward offered for the 
prophet's discovery, and the general advantages to be reaped 
from his re-appearance, is to accept that which is to me a 
far greater improbability than that the birds of the air brought 
food to the prophet of the Lord. 

No doubt it is objected that ravens were unclean accord- 
ing to the law, but we may reply in the words of Dr. Eadie : 
" The law did not prohibit any one from using food that had 
been borne on the back of a camel or horse, both of which 
were unclean for food, according to the law. Now, these 
creatures performed for Elijah the same service that beasts 
of burden did to people in ordinary circumstances. Though 
God says to Elijah, * I have commanded the ravens to feed 
thee,' it is not meant that he would in any way so affect their 
natural disposition that they should bring food, and deposit 
it solely for the prophet's use, but simply that Elijah should 
be fed through their instrumentality; that they, following 
their natural habits, would bring food for their own use, or 
for the support of their young, of which Elijah could easily 

Digitized by 


32 Elijah the Prophet. 

avail himself."* Thus understood, it is far more natural to 
take the word as describing ravens, than to view it as im- 
plying human agency. Of course, in either case, the hand 
of God would be acknowledged by all parties ; but,' in the 
circumstances of the prophet at the time, the agency of birds 
is even more natural than that of men, while, as a learned 
writer in Smith's " Dictionary " says, " There is no escape 
from the plain meaning of the words, occurring as they do 
in a passage otherwise displaying no tinge of the marvelous, 
or from the. unanimity of all the Hebrew MSS., and- of all 
the ancient versions and Josephus."t 

Such, then, was the promise of the Lord to Elijah : water 
from the brook, and food from the ravens. " Poor enough 
fare/' one may say ; yet it was superior to that of multitudes 
in Israel, and it was all the prophet needed. " Having food 
and raiment, he had learned therewith to be content." He 
knew the meaning of "enough." Alas! how few of .us do! 
He did not care for hoarding; but, living a day at a time, 
he was content with a day's food each day. Happy ward 
of Providence ! more to be envied in thy simplicity than 
the wealthy millionaire, with his pistol beneath his pillow ! 

But we are anticipating ; for now we turn to contemplate 
the prophet's obedience to the divine command. " So he 
went and did according unto the word of the Lord : for he 
went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan." 
Perhaps there was an effort needed on the part of the proph- 
et to carry out this command of God's. Naturally, as I judge, 
he was fond of danger. I have heard a distinguished gener- 
al say that he was never so cool, composed, and self-possessed 
anywhere as he was upon the field of battle ; and that, apart 
from the horrors that were inseparably connected with such a 

* Eadie's " Cyclopaedia ;" article Elijah, 
t Smith's " Dictionary ;" article Elijah, 

Digitized by 


By the Brook. 33 

scene of strife, there was something in its stimulus and excite- 
ment which he felt to be intensely exhilarating. So I conceive 
it was with Elijah and the great moral struggle in which he 
was engaged. Like the war-horse so magnificently described 
in the Book of Job, " he scented the battle afar off, he mocked 
at fear and was not affrighted, neither turned he back from 
the sword. He saith among the trumpets, Ha ! ha !"* He 
was in his congenial element when he was in the thick of the 
spiritual conflict which God had commanded him to inaugu- 
rate and carry on ; and so it would be a trial to him to tell 
him to go into seclusion, especially since it might leave him 
open to be misjudged by his fellows. . He might have been 
inclined to say with Nehemiah, on a memorable occasion, 
*' Should such a man as I flee?"t But God*s word must 
not be gainsaid, and so he stood not to ask, " What will they 
say of me in Jezreel and throughout Israel ?" or, " Could not 
I be engaged elsewhere in some active work ?" Neither did 
he inquire, in hesitating unbelief, " How will the brook be 
maintained ?" or, " AVhat certainty have I that the ravens will 
feed me?" or, "How can I prepare the food they bring to 
me ?" He asked no questions. His was not " to make re- 
ply," his was not " to reason why." God had spoken : that 
was sufficient ; and he went his way up that lonely valley, 
trusting in God as truly as he did when he entered into 
Ahab's presence. Brethren, let us imitate Elijah here ! We 
may not be called to bear witness for God before princes, 
and may have no occasion to clothe ourselves with the thun- 
der of his power ; but we may be called, yea, I doubt not 
some of us have often been already called, to go into circum- 
stances of privation, and to trust to God's promises- for our 
temporal support. Let us do so as implicitly as did the Tish- 
bite here. Let us rest assured that if we love the Lord, and 

* Job xxxix., 22-25. t Nehemiah vi., 1 1. 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 

34 Elijah the Prophet. 

are in circumstances of necessity, he will take care of us, and 
make provision for us. Let us wait on him in earnest prayer 
for this very thing; for as we listen to the purling of Che- 
rith's brook, and see the heavy flight of the raven across the 
valley with its supply for the prophet, we seem to hear again 
the words of ancient promise : " The Lord will provide." 
" Thy bread shall be given thee, and thy water shall be sure." 
" Trust in the Lord, and do good ; so shalt thou dwell in the 
land, and verily thou shalt be fed." " Seek first the king- 
dom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall 
be added unto you." For the prophet, leaning upon God, 
was not put to shame. Jehovah stood to his word, and " the 
ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread 
and flesh in the evening, and he drank of the brook." Ev- 
ery thing was as God had told him. " Hath he said it, and 
shall he not do it ? hath he spoken, and shall he not make 
it good ?" " He is faithful who hath promised." But " the 
Lord God of Elijah " liveth yet, and is as faithful to his word 
as he ever was. He will keep his promises in regard to spir- 
itual matters ; and when his people are in a land of drought 
and famine, then, in his own Son, he gives them bread and 
flesh to eat, and in his Word there is a perennial fountain 
from which they may always drink. 

But we must not forget that he is faithful also to his prom- 
ises as to temporal things. We are apt, indeed, to think that 
food and raiment, and other such material blessings, are too 
secular a'nd small to trouble him with, and so we all too sel- 
dom tell him about our temporal difficulties. That is a great 
mistake. He wishes us to be without anxiety. He encour- 
ages us to go to him with every care, and he assures us that 
either he will remove the cause of our perplexity, or strength- 
en us under it, to glorify his name. More frequently than 
we wot of does he supply his people's wants, even yet in 
ways apparently as extraordinary as that by which he pro- 

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By the 'Brook. 35 

vided for Elijah. Let me tell you of one or two. The good 
Krummacher, in commenting on this very passage, relates the 
following incident, as one well known to all his hearers :* 
"Who else was it," says he, "but the God of Elijah, who, 
only a short time ago, in our neighborhood, so kindly deliv- 
ered a poor man out of his distress, not, indeed, by a raven, 
but by a poor singing-bird. You are acquainted with the 
circumstance. The man was sitting, early in the morning, 
at his own house-door ; his eyes were red with weeping, and 
his heart cried to heaven, for he was expecting an officer to 
come and distrain him for a small debt. And while sitting 
thus with a heavy heart, a little bird flew through the street, 
fluttering up and down, as if in distress, until at length, quick 
as an arrow, it darted over the good man's head into his cot- 
tage, and perched itself on an empty cupboard. The good 
man, who little imagined who had sent him the bird, closed 
the door, caught the bird, and placed it in a cage, where it 
immediately began to sing very sweetly; and it seemed to 
the man as if it were the tune of a favorite hymn, * Fear 
thou not when darkness reigns;* and as he listened to it, 
he found it soothe and comfort his mind. Suddenly some 
one knocked at the door. *Ah! it is the officer,* thought 
the man, and was sore afraid. But no ; it was the ser\'ant 
of a respectable lady, who said that the neighbors had seen 
a bird fly into his house, and she wished to know if he had 
caught it. * Oh yes V answered the man, * and here it is ;* 
and the bird was carried away. A few minutes after the 
servant came again. * You have done my mistress a great 
service,' said he. * She sets a high value upon the bird, 
which had escaped from her. She is much obliged to you, 
and requests you to accept this trifle, with her thanks.' The 
poor man received it thankfully, and it proved to be neither 

* Krummacher's " Elijah the Tishbite," on this passage. 

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36 Elijah the Prophet. 

more nor less than the sum he owed. So, when the officer 
came, he said, ' Here is the amount of the debt. Now leave 
me in peace, for God has sent it me.* " 

Take this other, which is intimately associated with the his- 
tory of a beautiful German hymn : About two years after the 
close of the Thirty Years' War in Germany, George Neumarck 
lived in a poor street in Hamburg. Obtaining a precarious 
livelihood by playing on the violoncello, after a while he fell 
sick, and was unable to go his usual rounds. As this was his 
only means of support, he was soon reduced to great straits, 
and was compelled to part with his instrument to a Jew, who, 
with characteristic sharpness, lent him on it a sum much be- 
low its value for two weeks, after which, if it were not redeem- 
ed, it was to be forfeited. As he gave it up, he looked lov- 
ingly at it, and tearfully asked the Jew if he might play one 
more tune upon it. " You don't know," he said, " how hard it 
is to part with it. For ten years it has been my companion ; 
if I had nothing else, I had it ; and it spoke to me, and sung 
back to me. Of all the sad hearts that have left your door, 
there has been none so sad as mine." His voice grew 
thick ; then, pausing for a moment, he seized the instrument 
and commenced a tune so exquisitely soft that even the Jew 
listened, in spite of himself. A few more strains, and he 
sung, to his own melody, two stanzas of his own hymn, " Life 
is weary ; Saviour, take me." Suddenly the ke^ changed ; a 
few bars, and the melody poured forth itself anew, and his 
face lighted up with a smile as he sung, " Yet who knows the 
cross is precious." Then, laying down the instrument, he 
said, "As God will, I am still," and rushed from the shop. 
Going out into the darkness, he stumbled against a stranger, 
who seemed to have been listening at the door, and who said 
to him, " Could you tell me where I could obtain a copy of 
that song? I would willingly give a florin for it." "My 
good friend," said Neumarck, " I will give it you without the 

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By the Brook. 37 

florin." The stranger was valet to the Swedish embassador, 
and to him the poet told the story of his trials. He, in his 
turn, told his master, who, being in want of a private secre- 
tary, engaged Neumarck at once, and so his troubles ended. 
But with his first money he redeemed his instrument, and, 
on obtaining it, he called his landlady and his friends and 
neighbors, to hear him play on it again. Soon his room 
was filled, and 4ie sung, to his own accompaniment, his own 
sweet hymn, of which this is one stanza : 

" Leave God to order all thy ways, 

And hope in him, whatever betide ; 
Thou'lt find him, in the evil days, 

Thine all-sufficient strength and guide. 
"Who trusts in God's unchanging love 
Builds on the rock that naught can move."* 

But what need I more ? If it were lawful for me to bring 
out narratives which I have received in confidence from 
some whom I have visited in their distress, I could unfold 
illustrations, equally striking, of the great truth that God 
careth even for his people's temporal wants. So let our 
parting word for this evening be, " Trust in the Lord, and 
do good ; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou 
Shalt be fed." 

* See "Lives and Deeds Worth Knowing About," by Rev. W. F. Ste- 
venson, p. 132 ; also " Evenings with the Sacred Poets," by Frederick 
Saunders, pp. 177-179. 

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I Kings xvil, 7-16. 

OW long Elijah dwelt in the valley of the Cherith we 
are not precisely informed ; for the phrase " after a 
while," even if we adopt the more literal rendering in the 
margin, " at the end of days," is quite indefinite, and furnishes 
no data on which we can found any opinion. AVe may, per- 
haps, conjecture that he remained in his retreat for a period 
not shorter than four or five months, and not longer than a 
year ; and in any case, during the later portion of his sojourn, 
his faith must have been put to a very severe test, " for the 
brook began to fail." Each day, therefore, he would mark 
that the waters had receded, and laid bare another portion 
of the shingly channel over which they flowed, until at length 
he might require to make little artificial pools, into which, 
^after a time, a proper supply might percolate. In such cir- 
cumstances, if his faith had not been securely fixed in God, 
fiis heart might have failed just as the brook declined ; and 
even with his strong confidence in Jehovah, the receding riv- 
ulet must have had a saddening influence upon his spirit 
Sight does and must aflect us more or less, so long as we are 
in the body, and sight here must have done much to depress 
Elijah. He was like one immured in that terrible dungeon 
which the cruelty of the Inquisition devised, and which grad- 
ually, day by day, narrowed in upon its victim, crushing him 
at last in its fatal embrace. He was like the man whom 

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The Barrel and the Cruse. 39 

John Foster has so graphically described in one of his lect- 
ures, who had only a certain supply of water in a cistern, 
and who, each time he took a draught therefrom, felt that he 
was lessening the resources of his life. Here was the brook 
drying up, until there was nothing left but a little rippling 
thread. AVhat was he to do when it should be entirely gone ? 
It is impossible to conceive that this question would not 
force itself into his thoughts, and, ever as it came, there would 
be a fight between faith and sight. Nor let any one suppose 
that the ordeal was not severe, for, as John Kitto has well 
remarked, " it is such slow processes that try faith most of 
all. Many possess the faith for sudden great heroic deeds, 
for one who can maintain his faith unshaken in the midst of 
such slow trials as this."* But Elijah stood the test. God 
had sent him to Cherith ; and until God sent him elsewhere, 
he would remain there, sure that he would somehow be sup- 
ported. Be it that the brook failed, was not God still his 
God ? and could not he provide for him as easily without the 
brook as with it ? So he would stay till God should bid him 
thence. This, is the highest form of obedience — to remain 
at our post, even though we may be unable to see why we 
are kept there, and may have to endure considerable hard- 
ship while we continue there. It is told of General Have- 
locVs son, that one day his father, having some business to 
do in the neighborhood, left him on London Bridge, and bid 
him await his return there. Having finished his business, 
which required longer time than he had calculated, the gen- 
eral remembered another engagement for which he was then 
due, and, forgetting his son, pushed on to keep his appoint- 
ment. Thus it was with him all through the afternoon, and 
he reached his home about eight o'clock in the evening. As 
he was putting on his slippers, his wife said to him, "Where's 

* " Daily Bible Illustrations," vol, iv., p. 241. 

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40 Elijah the Prophet. 

Harry ?" " Dear me !'* said he, " I quite forgot ; he is on 
London Bridge, and has been there for the last eight hours. 
I must go and relieve him." So, putting on his boots again, 
he hastened to the bridge, and there he found his son pa- 
cing to and fro, like a sentinel, along its pavement. Now, why 
is it that we admire such conduct as that of the young sol- 
dier in such a case ? Why is it that our hearts thrill, and our 
eyes moisten, as we read Mrs. Hemans's well-known lines on 
the noble Casablanca? Is it not because we see in them 
both the highest form of obedience — that which can wait 
through suffering, and, it may be, also through death, at the 
post of duty, even if there be no clear comprehension of the 
reason why such delay is required ? Now, it was quite simi- 
lar with Elijah here. God had spoken ; and till God should 
speak again, he would abide where he was, no matter though 
the brook was failing. The Israelites in the desert moved 
when the pillar of cloud moved and went before them ; and 
when it rested, they rested. To Elijah's view, the cloud was 
still resting in the valley of the Cherith, and not until it rose 
and led him elsewhere would he leave his lonely cave. 

At length, however, the word of the Lord came to him, and 
came in such a form as to furnish a new trial to his faith ; 
for it said, "Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to 
Zidon, and dwell there : behold, I have commanded a widow 
woman there to sustain thee." Now, obedience to this com- 
mand required that he should cross the entire tract of Israel 
lying between Jordan and the coast of the Mediterranean 
Sea ; that he should go to the territory of Eth-baal, the idol-, 
atrous father of the vindictive Jezebel ; and that even there 
he should be cast upon the support of a woman, whose nat- 
ural bread-winner and protector had been stricken from her 
side. It did not seem a very inviting prospect ; but it was 
God that gave him the command, and so "he arose and went 
to Zarephath." We have no account of his journeyings across 

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The Barrel and the Cruse. 41 

the country. Probably they were performed at night, when 
he could hope to keep himself hidden from the people's 
view ; certainly, they were done in secret ; and so far from 
thrusting himself into the busy haunts of men, he would seek 
the solJtude of the most hidden paths. 

The town of Zarephath was situected on the sea-coast, be- 
tween Tyre and Zidon, but rather nearer the latter than the 
former. Its modern representative is Surafend, which seems, 
however, according to Dr. Thomson,* to have been built after 
the twelfth century, since at the time of the Crusaders the 
city stood upon the shore. Dean Stanleyf thus writes re- 
garding it: "The identity of Surafend with Sarepta is un- 
questioned. It is a village seated aloft on the top and side 
of one of the hills, the long lines of which skirt the plain of 
Phoenicia, conspicuous from afar by the white domes of its 
many tombs of Mussulman saints. It throws no light on 
the story of Elijah, beyond the emphasis imparted to his visit 
by the complete separation of the situation from the Israel- 
ite territory on the other side of the hills." 

The fact that the prophet was sent out of the land of Is- 
rael has thus been commented on by our Lord, in his ad- 
dress in the synagogue at Nazareth : " I tell you of a truth, 
many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the 
heaven was shut up tliree years and six months ; but unto 
none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Si- 
don, unto a woman that was a widow. "t Now, it has been 
usual with many to look upon this as an illustration of the 
divine sovereignty, and, of course, I readily admit that God 
has a right to do as he pleases in the government of the 
world, and in the dispensation of his grace. I admit, also, 
that there are many of his actions for which, though we are 

♦ "The Land and the Book," p. 161. 
t " Sinai and Palestine," p. 271. 
X Luke iv., 25, 26. 

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42 Elijah the Prophet. 

sure that he has himself good reason, we can give no account 
but this, " Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy 
sight" But this of sending Elijah to Zarephath is not one 
of these ; and the Saviour, in the discourse from which I 
have quoted, very clearly, as it seems to me, unfolds the rea- 
son of the divine procedure in the matter. You observe, he 
is illustrating the proverb that "A prophet is not accepted in 
his own country."* Let us look, therefore, at the whole his- 
tory in the light of these words. Israel had cast off alle- 
giance to God. There were still a few, indeed, who had nev- 
er bowed the knee to Baal, but the vast majority of the peo- 
ple had broken the divine covenant. They would have none 
of God, or of his prophet Therefore God, when he had the 
special blessing of deliverance in time of famine to confer, 
would not bestow it upon any of them. He would give it to 
a Zidonian widow, to teach the Israelites of that day that, if 
they forsook God, he would forsake them, and to forewarn 
the Jews of after-generations that if they rejected the mercy 
of God, he would pass them by, and give salvation to the 
Gentiles. Now, the point of the reference made to this in- 
cident by Jesus lies in this: the men of Nazareth rejected 
him ; they said, " Is not this Joseph's son ?" and he, by re- 
calling the two memorable passages in the history of Elijah 
and Elisha, plainly indicates that for their rejection they 
would be passed by, and that the blessing which they had 
despised would be handed over, first, to other portions of 
Israel, and then to the Gentiles ; and it was their perception 
of this that so enraged the men of Nazareth that they took 
the Lord, and led him " to the brow of the hill whereon their 
city was built, that they might cast him down headlong."t 

Thus the mission of Elijah to Zarephath was not merely 
an act of punishment to the Israelites of his day, because 

♦ Luke iv., 24. t Ibid, iv., 29. 

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The Barrel and the Cruse. 43 

they had rejected God, but it was a historical prophecy of 
the calling of the Gentiles consequent upon the rejection of 
the Gospel by the Jews, and the rejection of the Jews by the 
Lord. It is a solemn thing to undervalue either the Gospel 
or its messengers. The Gospel shall not cease to bless, and 
the messengers shall not cease to proclaim it ; but the bless- 
ing shall descend on other lands, and the message shall be 
proclaimed in other ears. Therefore, if we would not forfeit 
the high privileges which God has conferred upon us, it be- 
comes us to value and improve them to the uttermost. 

If it be asked, again, why, of all the inhabitants of Za- 
rephath, Elijah was sent to a poor widow, then I answer 
that, had he gone to some of the great ones of the place, 
he could not so readily have kept himself concealed from 
the knowledge of the authorities of the land ; while, again, 
it was the design of God that he should sojourn with some 
one whom he could benefit, and for whose sake the divine 
power might be signally manifested. Nor is this all. There 
might be some feeling after the Lord of Israel in the heart 
of the poor woman hetself; for she says to Elijah, "The 
Lord thy God," and she seems to have had faith enough to 
grasp at once the promise which the prophet repeated in his 
name. I know not, indeed, that she was a real heart-wor- 
shiper of the true God, but these things seem to indicate 
that her face was in the right direction ; and so, on the prin- 
ciple of the promise that "to him that hath shall more be 
given," this poor woman, who had so much knowledge of Je- 
hovah, was to get more. Just as to Cornelius, the devout 
man, Peter was sent to help him on to Christianity, so, per- 
haps, to this woman Elijah was sent to perfect her in the 
knowledge of Jehovah. God says, " I have commanded a 
widow woman there to sustain thee." This does not mean 
that the word of the Lord came to her as it did to Elijah 
himself, but simply, as we explained a similar mode of speech 

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44 Elijah the Prophet. 

in the case of the ravens, that God would sustain the proph- 
et through her instrumentality. In the course of divine prov- 
idence Elijah would be supported by a widow in Zarephath. 
But how was he to know to which of all the widows of the 
city he was sent ? It does not appear that any information 
was given him on this point until he reached the gate of the 
town ; but as he approached the entrance into the city, he 
saw a woman gathering sticks, and (guided, as I doubt not, 
by the suggestion of the Holy Spirit) he made up to her, and 
asked if she would kindly " fetch him a litde water in a ves- 
sel, that he might drink." He had walked probably a long 
way ; it was a time of drought, and he was exhausted with 
his journey. It was natural, therefore, that he should make 
such a request. But water was a scarce commodity just then, 
and the woman might have been excused by many if she had 
declined to comply with the wishes of a stranger. Still she 
went to do as he had asked ; but, while she was going, he 
called after her and said, " Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel 
of bread in thine hand." This, however, seemed almost more 
than she could bear ; so she made reply, revealing a terrible 
depth of distress by her words : "As the Lord thy God liveth, 
I have not a cake, but a handful of meal in a barrel, and a 
little oil in a cruse : and, behold, I am gathenng two sticks 
that I may go in and- dress it for me and my son, that we 
may eat it and die." Here, indeed, is extremity of misery. 
" Surely," might the prophet have said, " this is not she to 
whom I am sent ;" but he did not say that. He saw in her 
the very person for whose deliverance he had so opportune- 
ly come. So he said to her, " Fear not ; go and do as thou 
hast said : but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring 
it unto me, and after that make for thee and for thy son. For 
thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall 
not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that 
the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth." " Make me there- 

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The Barrel and the Cruse. 45. 

of a liitle cake first :" as the woman heard these words she 
might be disposed to say, " Well, you are amazingly cool ! 
Here have I left only a meal for myself and my son ; and 
you, an entire stranger to us both, have the face to ask that 
I should make a cake for you before I do any thing for our- 
selves." Truly Bishop Hall is right when he says, " Some 
sharp dame would have taken up the prophet, and have sent 
him away with an empty repulse : * Bold Israelite, there is 
no reason in this request. Wert thou a friend or a brother 
even, with what face couldst thou require to pull my last bite 
out of my mouth.' "* But the promise with which the proph- 
et closed his petition wiped out any apparent iiitpertinence 
in the . supplication itself. It was a matter of reciprocity. 
Elijah said, virtually, " If you make me this cake according 
to my entreaty, God will give you all through this terrible 
drought the material to make as many cakes as you need." 
And, believing in God's ability and willingness to keep his 
promise, she closed at once with the prophet's offer, and went 
and did as he had said. And God kept his word ; for " the 
barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, 
according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah." 

Now here let us pause, and glean for ourselves a few les- 
sons from this touching narrative. 

The first thing that strikes us is the minuteness of God's 
daily providence. We knew before that God cares for all 
things, and especially for his own children, but having read 
attentively over this portion of his Word, and having studied 
it in all its bearings, we see that truth set in a clearer light 
than we commonly behold it. The Redeemer himself has 
said that "a sparrow can not fall to the ground without our 
Father ;" but, somehow, as we read his words, the very mag- 

♦ " Contemplations on the Historical Passages of the Old and New 
Testaments," by the Right Rev. Joseph Hall, D.D., p. 281. 

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46 Elijah the Prophet. 

nitude of the truth which they convey staggers our intellects ; 
and it is only when we have it exempl?fied in a case like that 
before us, that we thoroughly understand all that it implies. 
Behold at what subtle points, all unknown to ourselves, our 
histories touch each other ; and how, by the prearrangements 
of God*s care, he works out his purposes of mercy, even 
through the agency of our own free-wills ! This woman had 
no thought of meeting God*s prophet at the gate of Zare- 
phath. She went out with a sad heart to gather fuel for her 
last meal, and, lo ! she meets one who was destined to turn 
her mourning into gladness. Nor is this a solitary instance. 
The woman of Samaria, going out for her daily supply of wa- 
ter, meets the Lord, who bestows upon her salvation. The 
two disciples go to find a place wherein to eat the passover, 
and they meet a man with a pitcher of water, whose only 
thought was to take home that which was needed for his 
family^s wants. A similar thing happened when other two 
went for the colt whereon Jesus rode into Jerusalem. Lydia 
finds her way to the Jewish place of prayer by the river-side 
in the outskirts of Philippi, thinking, no doubt, of the God 
of Israel, and the privileges of the people of his choice, and, 
lo ! Paul is there, and, listening to his word, she is converted 
to the Lord. But this minute providence is not confined to 
the ages of which we read in Holy Writ. It is the same still. 
Scoffing men call its manifestations mere coincidences ; but 
it is as true now as it ever was, that God is in all, and over 
all, and through all things. He is " not far from every one 
of us." He is on every side of us. His providence encir- 
cles us with his protection, and guides us by his wisdom, al- 
beit at the moment we feel only that we are doing according 
to our choice. What a comfort there is in the assurances 
that God is with us and that God is for us, so that each of 
us can sing with David, " I am poor and needy, yet the Lord 
thinketh upon me." 

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• The Barrel and the Cruse. 47 

But, in the second place, we learn here that, no matter 
how small our resources may be, we can still do something 
for God, if we have but the will. This poor woman could 
scarcely have been in more destitute circumstances. She 
was at the point of starvation, and yet, by her unselfish liber- 
ality with what she had, she was honored of God to sustain 
his prophet for, perhaps, two years. But have we not seen 
shnilar things often in the history of God and of his Church ? 
No matter how feeble the instrument we use, when God is 
behind it he can make it mighty. An ox-goad rn the hand 
of Shamgar ; a bone in the hand of Samson ; lamps, pitch- 
ers, and trumpets in the hands of Gideon's three hundred ; 
a sling and a stone in the hand of David, have all done great 
things in overthrowing God's enemies. A few loaves and 
fishes put by a lad into the Saviour's hand have fed thou- 
sands on the mountain -side. And it is so still. I read 
some years ago, in the Sunday Magazine^ of a common milk- 
man, who, out of his own earnings, bought a house, in which 
he sustained and educated and trained to some useful trade 
a dozen orphans picked off the streets of London. He be- 
gan with the litde that he had, and God opened up his way 
before him to that, for him, great result. Let no one, there- 
fore, be discouraged, or say that he can do nothing. A few 
drops of water rightly utilized by the hydraulic crane may 
lift the heaviest weights, and the scantiest resources, if there 
be but faith and resolution, may work wonders in the world. 
Admirably here has MacDufF remarked: "It is worthy of 
note that this power of litdes is specially illustrated in Holy 
Writ in connection with two widows, the one in the Old Tes- 
tament, and the other in the New. The widow of Sarepta 
giving the last handful in her drained barrel ; the widow at 
the Temple treasury casting in her two mites. Never let 
any one say, * I am of no use in the world ; I can do no 
good; I can exercise no influence. God has clipped my 

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48 * Elijah the Prophet. • 

wings. I am like a chained bird. I would soar, but I can 
not — this cage of poverty and sickness so keeps me shut up 
from the elements of society, activity, and usefulness.' "* Ah ! 
no. When God has no more for us to do here, he will take 
us hence ; but so long as he keeps us on earth, he has work 
for us, no matter how scanty our resources, or how feeble our 
power. Nay, if we will only view it rightly, our weakness will 
be our strength, so that, like Paul, we shall say, " When I am 
weak, then am I strong." 

We may learn here, thirdly, that our doings for God should 
go before our devotion to ourselves. The world's maxim is, 
" Take care of yourself first ;'* the Christian principle is to 
merge self in Christ. God requires the first-fruits. It will 
not do merely to serve ourselves and give the surplus to him. 
We must serve him, and help his servants, and advance his 
cause, even if we should be required, like this woman here, 
to eat a smaller cake ourselves, and to give a smaller portion 
to our families. There is no faith in giving to God only 
what we can spare after we have served ourselves. Faith will, 
like the poor widow at the treasury, give all, if need be, to 
God, and look to him for a supply. The dying Sidney caused 
the water which was brought for him to be given to a soldier 
who seemed to need it more than he. There was the true 
spirit of Christ, who yielded up himself that sinners thereby 
might be saved. Selfishness is the essence of sin. Love is 
the essence of salvation. The haughty Cain stands by and 
says, "Am I my brother's keeper?" The meek follower of 
the Lord Jesus will share his last comfort with his brethren 
in wretchedness and want. This is a hard thing to the men 
of the world ; but when once we thoroughly understand and 
appreciate what Jesus has done for us, it becomes easy. 

We may learn, fourthly, that in giving thus to Qod we are 

* " The Prophet of Fire," by J. R. MacDuff, D.D., p. 6i. 

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1'he Barrel and the Cruse. 49 

taking the surest means to get more from him. He will be 
no man's debtor; and what he gets from us, through his 
children, he repays again with an abundant increase. This 
woman gave one meal to the prophet, and God sustained her 
for two years. Christ gave himself for sinners, and, lo ! God 
has exalted him to the throne of mediatorial dominion, and 
is evert now satisfying his heart by letting him see of " the 
travail of his soul." This is ever the divine law : we get 
by giving. We must sow if we would reap ; we must open 
our hearts in love to others, if we would have God's love 
shed abroad in our own souls. It will not do, however, for 
us to have regard to the reward. We are to " do good and 
lend, looking for nothing again ;" and then it is that our re- 
ward shall be great, and " we shall be the children of the 

Nor is it only in the giving of supplies for the bodies of 
men that this principle holds good. It is as true of the la- 
bors which we engage in for their spiritual benefit. " He 
that watereth others, shall be watered also himself." Hence 
when we find our piety at a low ebb, or our happiness dimin- 
ishing, the way to increase it is to go and try to make others 
'better and more joyous. ^Very beautifully has this lesson 
been sung for us by the authoress of " The Schonberg-cotta 
Family " in these lines : 

" Is thy cruse of comfort failing ? Rise and share it with another, 
And through all the years of famme it shall serve thee and thy brother. 
Love divine will fill thy store-house, or thy handful still renew ; 
. Scanty fare for one will often ipake a royal feast for two. 

For the heart grows rich in giving ; all its wealth is living grain ; 
Seeds which mildew in the gamer, scattered, fill with gold the plain. 
Is thy burden hard and heavy ? Do, thy steps drag wearily ? 
Help to bear thy brother's burden ; God will bear both it and thee. 

Numb and weary on the mountains, wouldst thou sleep amidst the snow? 
Chafe that frozen form beside thee, and together both shall glow. 


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50 Elijah the Prophet. 

Art thou stricken in life's battle ? Many wounded round thee moan : 
Lavish on their wounds thy balsam, and that balm shall heal thine own. 

Is the heart a well left empty ? None but God its void can fill ; 
Nothing but a ceaseless fountain can its ceaseless longings still. 
Is the heart a living power ? Self-entwined, its strength sinks low ; 
It can only live in loving, and by serving love will grow."* J 

We may learn, fifthly, that God's doings for us are often 
delayed till the very last, to teach us that, when relief comes, 
it comes from him. Not till the brook was quite dried up 
did Jehovah make provision for Elijah ; and the widow was 
preparing her last meal when Elijah came, an apparent bur- 
den to her, but yet a real helper. " Man's extremity is God's 
opportunity.'' It is not till things "are at the worst" that 
they " begin to mend." Thus even the world's proverb rec- 
ognizes this principle of the divine procedure. It was in the 
fourth watch of the night, when they were worn out by their 
long toil in rowing, that Jesus came walking over the sea 
to his disciples' assistance. It was after Lazarus had been 
buried that the Lord came to help his friends at Bethany; 
and though Jairus cried, " Come down, ere my child die," he 
let the child expire before he went. Let us not despair, 
therefore, no matter how dark may be the outlook. " In the 
mount the Lord will provide," and at the very moment of 
sacrifice a ram will be substituted for our Isaac. It were a 
sad thing to be in perplexity with no God to fall back upon ; 
but while we have him saying to us, " I am thy God," all is 
well. The deepest agony is not that of the Christian when 
he is in extremity, for he knows that God is as omnipotent 
then as ever, and will take care of him ; but, oh ! it is sad, in- 
effably sad, when a man has nothing but earthly things to 
sustain him. The day will come when for him, too, the brook 

♦ " The Women of the Gospels, and other Poems," by the author of 
"Chronicles of the Schonberg-cotta Family," p. i8i. 

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The Barrel and the Cruse. 51 

will fail, and the barrel become empty ; and what shall he 
do then without a God? Let the godless before me ponder 
well the question. 

I can not conclude without directing attention here to 
God's care for the widow. He might have sent Elijah to 
some other poor household ; but he chose a widow, to re- 
mind us, among other things, of his tenderness for those who 
have been thus bereaved. He is the judge of the widows. 
He takes them under his peculiar care. These are his pre- 
cepts to his ancient people : " Ye shall not afflict any wid- 
ow, or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in any wise, and 
they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry."* He 
commanded that sheaves should be left for them upon the 
harvest -field, and gleanings from the olive-trees and from 
the vintage were to be reserved for them.f Go read anew 
the story of Naomi and Ruth; two widows in one home. 
Ponder well the teachings of this history which has been to- 
night before us. Think why, of all bereaved ones, Jesus 
chose to raise the son of the widow of Nain, and then say 
if we are not thereby taught to deal kindly with those who 
have been left to the dreariest loneliness the earth can know. 
And you, ye solitary ones, whom God has thus bereft of your 
beloved companions and protectors, hear ye not again to- 
night these words of promise, intensified by the story of my 
text ? — " Leave thy fatherless children. I will preserve them 
alive, and let thy widows trust in me." 

♦ Exodus xxii., 22, 23. t Deuteronpmy xxiv., 19-21. 

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I Kings xvii., I7-24, 

ELIJAH must have sojourned with the widow of Zare- 
phath for two years, during which he and his hostess 
were provided for by what seems to have been a regularly 
recurring miracle. The meal in the barrel was always just 
on the point of being exhausted j and the oil in the cruse 
was always just on the point of failing. Yet neither ever 
entirely gave out. There was never at any time in the house 
a store of either ; yet as each new day dawned, the woman 
discovered that she had still enough for that day's necessity. 
Thus while she and her guest had always a sufficiency, they 
were at the same time always kept on the very confines of 
want ; and so they were preserved from either sinking into 
despair or rising into presumption. God wished them both 
to depend directly and immediately upon himself, and there- 
fore he allowed no reserve to accumulate in their hands lest 
they should confide in that, rather than in him. He gave 
them " day by day their daily bread." And though now such 
miracles as that performed for the widow are no longer 
wrought by him, we must neither forget nor despise the one 
great, constant miracle of his providence by which his uni- 
verse is sustained and his people upheld. Is there not, in 
this regard, still too much ground for the appeal of the 
Christian poet when he says ? 

" What prodigies can power divine perform 
More grand than it produces year by year, 

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Death and Resurrection. 53 

And all in sight of inattentive man ? 

Familiar with the effect, we slight the cause, 

And, in the constancy of nature's course, 

The regular return of genial months. 

And renovation of a faded world. 

See naught to wonder at. Should God again. 

As once in Gideon, interrupt the race 

Of the undeviating and punctual sun. 

How would the world admire ! But speaks it less 

An agency divine, to make him know 

His moment when to sink and when to rise. 

Age after age, than to arrest his course ? 

All we behold is miracle, but, seen so duly, 

All is miracle in vain."* 

This witness is true./ The hand that supplied our wants this 
morning is the same as that which provided for the widow 
of Zarephath and her exile guest; yet how little gratitude 
do we feel for this regularly recurring kindness from the 
Lord, as compared with that which would thrill our souls if 
some miracle were wrought for our behoof! Let us never 
forget, however, that what men call natural and what they 
call supernatural are both alike from God : only the natu- 
ral represents his constant operations, the supernatural his 
occasional variations from his common plan. For the one, 
therefore, as really as for the other, he deserves, and should 
receive, our loving thanks. 

How Elijah was occupied during his sojourn at Zarephath 
does not appear ; but the fact that he was, as it were, under 
hiding from Ahab, renders it, in a manner, certain that he 
was not engaged in any public effort for the spiritual benefit 
of the people of the place. Hence his attention must have 
been given almost exclusively to the duties of the closet and 
of the home. Much of his time would doubtless be given to 
devotional retirement ; but he would also take the liveliest 

♦ Cowper's " Task," book ii.. 

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54 Elijah the Prophet. 

interest in his hostess and her son. His life before Ihem 
would be a constant sermon, preaching to them of holiness 
and peace and cheerfulness, and communion with God ; and 
it is likely that, in his conversation with the widow, he would 
seek to instruct her in the knowledge of Jehovah, whose per- 
sonal existence, almighty power, and sovereign mercy, were 
all so vividly made manifest in the miracle by which they 
were supported. I can not help thinking, however, that the 
brightest feature of Elijah^s life at Zarephath would be his 
companionship with the widow's son. We are not informed, 
indeed, what the age of this child was ; but we think, from 
certain expressions in the narrative, such as those which 
speak of him as being in his mother's bosom, and as lifted 
by Elijah and carried up to his chamber, that he must have 
been very young. Now, knowing how interesting the prattle 
of an intelligent little boy is, and how much there is, even in 
the questions which he is continually asking, that tends both 
to instruct and to amuse an older mind, I feel certain that 
this child must have been a continuous source of delight to 
the prophet ; for it is a common thing for those with stern 
natures like his to have a soft and tender enjoyment in do- 
mestic life, and in fellowship with the young. The rock 
which on its seaward side stands abrupt, perpendicular, and 
bare, ready to meet and to repel all the assaults of ocean, 
does, on its landward side, hold out its arms to the soil, and 
carries on its bosom the soft moss, the beautiful lichen, or 
the blooming flower ; so the reformer who, before kings and 
emperors and princes, stands unbending and unabashed, 
does yet at home open his heart to all the tender affections 
of the family, and delights especially in children. What can 
be more charming in its playful abandon^ its happy cheerful- 
ness, its childish love of sport, than the home-life of Martin 
Luther ? And they who know only the determined attitude 
of Knox before Queen Mary will hardly be prepared to find 

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Death and Resurrection. 55 

that in his home he was genial, and fond of pleasantry.* So, 
I think, we shall do Elijah injustice if we regard him as all 
rugged, hard, and cold. There were fountains of love with- 
in him deep sfnd fresh, and I picture him to myself at Zare- 
phath with this little boy between his knees or in his arms ; 
now amusing him and instructing him at one and the same 
time with the rehearsal of some old Hebrew story ; and now, 
again, in his turn, amused and instructed by the queer com- 
ments which the child made upon them, and the suggestive 
questions which he asked regarding them. Of course, it is 
a fancy ; but I like to portray to myself the Tishbite, with 
his hairy garment and his stern aspect, fondling this wid- 
ow's son, and telling him some one of those beautiful histo- 
ries which have been the special favorites of children in ev- 
ery age and in every land. And if, as Eastern tradition de- 
clares — not very trustworthily, I admit — this boy grew up 
to become the prophet Jonah,t I can see how these early 
years must have been among the happiest and most profit- 
able of his life; and in any case, whatever his after-history, 
the stories of Joseph, and Moses, and Samuel, and David 
must have been doubly dear to him from their association 
with Elijah, from whose lips he had first heard them. 

But in the midst of all this enjoyment, a terrible trial, se- 
vere in itself, yet rendered intensely more so from its un- 
expectedness, fell upon him and his hostess. " It came to 
pass, after these things, that the son of the woman, the mis- 
tress of the house, fell sick, and his sickness was so sore that 
there was no breath left in him :" that is to say, he suddenly 
sickened and died ; for there is no foundation whatever for 
the idea — which I am surprised to find countenanced by 
such a commentator as Lange — that he merely swooned. 

♦ See M*Crie's "Life of Knox," period viii. 
t Stanley's "Jewish Church," vol. ii., p. 299. 

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56 Elijah the Prophet. 

Death is always a sad thing, but there were here some pe- 
culiar elements of sorrow. It was the death of a child. 
We expect the old to die ; but our hearts cling tenderly to 
the young, while we almost refuse to contemplate the possi- 
bility of their being taken from us. Their winning ways, 
their unsophisticated simplicity, their undisguised affection, 
and their childish prattle endear them to our souls ; and, 
untaught by the experience of others, we will look forward 
to the time when they shall grow up to help us in the busi- 
ness of life, and sustain us in our old age. But their death 
dashes these hopes to the ground, and robs us of the hap- 
piness which we so highly prized. Hence, even though we 
have the perfect assurance of their eternal salvation, we 
can not but be filled with sadness by their removal. The 
very silence of our dwelling becomes oppressive to us ; and 
wherever we turn our eyes, we meet some little plaything or 
some tiny shoe that is indissolubly associated with the hap- 
piness of the past, so that we cry out in anguish, 

** Dear as remembered kisses after death, 
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned 
On lips that are for others ; deep as love, 
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret, 
O Death in Life — the days that are no more !"* 

But this boy thus unexpectedly removed was, so far as ap- 
pears, an only child. When this woman's husband died, we 
may suppose that her son did something, even by his very 
weakness, to reconcile her to her sorrow, and that as she 
clasped him to her bosom, she would say, " Sweet, my child, 
1*11 live for thee ;" but now she is alone. There is no other 
little one to stand by her knee, and draw her thoughts away 
from herself, and solace her by those nameless and inde- 
scribable attentions by which a child can endear itself to a 

* Tennyson's " Princess." 

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Death and Resurrection. 57 

parent. Bereavement, indeed, is always painful ; and even 
in a family of patriarchal size, the absence of one will make 
a blank which every member of the household will feel. Yet 
while others are left, there are duties to be performed, and 
plans to be forecast ; and these will not allow us to sit down 
and nurse our grief. But there was no such mitigating cir- 
cumstance in this woman's condition, for she had no other 
child ; and this new sorrow would have additional bitterness, 
because it opened up the old wound of her husband's death, 
and made it bleed afresh. 

Besides, there were certain other considerations which 
gave an aspect of mystery to this dispensation. Some time 
before she had looked death in the face, and was in a man- 
ner prepared to meet it. When Elijah first came to her, 
and made that singular request to her for bread, she had no 
other thought than that, after eating their last meal, she and 
her son would die ; and, so far as appears, she was then sto- 
ically reconciled to her fate. But since then God had been 
miraculously providing for her, day by day, and it did seem 
most perplexing that, at the very moment when he was work- 
ing a miracle to save them all from starvation, he should al- 
low death in another form to come upon her child. Was not 
this as if he were casting down in a moment that which for 
months he had been sustaining ? And if this were so, why 
should he have begun to sustain her at all ? Had the blow 
fallen at the time when she was feeling the famine, she could 
have understood it ; but that it should come now, while Je- 
hovah was still graciously providing for her, this was incom- 
prehensible. Hence she was driven into despair. She could 
not understand God's dealings with her. But as the proph- 
et had been the instrument through whom her own life and 
her son's had been preserved, she imagined that he now 
must be somehow connected with the coming of this calam- 
ity ; and she went to him, crying, in passionate grief, "What 


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58 Elijah the Prophet. 

have I to do with thee, O thou man of God ? Art thou come 
unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son ?" 
That is to say, " What is there in common to us two— to me, 
a sinful woman, and to thee, a man of God — that we should 
thus be brought together to my harm ?" But Elijah was ap- 
parently as much amazed and distressed as she was, and her 
bitter upbraidings must have fallen painfully upon his heart. 
Yet he indulged in no recrimination. He saw the mother's 
heart was broken, and he would not harshly judge her for a 
hasty word spoken in such bewildering circumstances. He 
simply said, "Give me thy son ;" and, taking him out of her 
bosom, he carried him up to the upper room,* which, as an 
honored guest, he occupied, and laid him upon his own bed. 
But what did he mean by taking the dead body of the dear 
boy thither ? A great thought, a grand purpose had taken 
possession of his soul. Already by his prayers he had seal- 
ed up the dew and the rain ; what should hinder, therefore, 
that, by his prayers, he should raise the dead ? It needed di- 
vine power to do the one ; it required no more than divine 
power to do the other. True, it had been heretofore unheard 
of in the history of the race ; yet " was there any thing too 
hard for the Lord?" He would ask that the child might 
live ! He would take hold of Jehovah's strength, and bring 

♦ " Our translation makes Elijah live in a loft, but not very accurately. 
In Hebrew it is ''alliyeh^ and this is the common Arabic word for the up- 
per rooms of houses. The ''alliyeh is the most desirable part of the es- 
tablishment, is best fitted up, and is still given to guests who are to be 
treated with honor. The women and servants live below, and their apart- 
ment is called ardiyehy or ground-floor, in common parlance simply beit^ 
or house. We may infer several things from this word : that the mode 
of building in Elijah's time and the custom of giving the ^alliyeh to the 
guest were the same as now ; also, that this widow woman was not orig- 
inally among the very poorest classes, but that her extreme destitution 
was owing to the famine which then prevailed." — T7ie Land and the 
Booky p. 1 60. 

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Death and Resurrection. 59 

that to bear upon the distress of his hostess. " The king- 
dom of heaven sufFereth violence ;" he would be violent, and 
" take it by force." So he cried, and said, " O Jehovah, my 
God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom 
I sojourn, by slaying her son ?" Then, stretching himself 
three times upon the child, he called upon the Lord, and 
said, " O Jehovah, my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul 
come into him again." It was God who had inspired this 
desire into his servant's soul, and he granted the request, for 
the soul of the child came to him again, and he revived. So, 
descending with him to his mother's chamber, the prophet 
had the unspeakable satisfaction of restoring him to her em- 
brace j and who may attempt to describe the ecstasy of that 
moment in her experience, as, with every lingering suspicion 
banished from her mind, she said to him, " Now I know that 
thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy 
mouth is truth ?" 

It is impossible for us now, with the New Testament in 
our hands, to read the account of this miracle without being 
impressed with the fact that we have here an anticipation of 
the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. This 
miracle was also a prediction. It would have been impossi- 
ble .to grant the prayer of Elijah here, had it not been, in the 
foreknowledge of Jehovah, an absolutely certain thing that 
Jesus Christ should, in the fullness of time, die for human of- 
fenses, and rise again, not only for the justification of believ- 
ers, but also as " the first-fruits of them that sleep." Even 
as the blessings which came to the pious Israelite through 
his regular offering of sacrifices . were pledges of the bless- 
ings which should flow from the true and infinite atonement 
which was 5^et to be made, so the raising again of this dead 
child was a foretaste and earnest of the general resurrection. 
Neither this partial and individual resurrection in Elijah's 
day, nor the general resurrection at the last, could have been 

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6o Elijah the Prophet. 

possible except on the ground of the resurrection of Christ. 
True, in the one case Christ's resurrection was still in the fut- 
ure, and in the other it will be a long way in the past. Yet 
it is alike connected with them both ; and this incident in 
ancient history was thus not only an assurance that Christ 
should rise from the dead, but also a prediction of the day 
when "all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the 
Son of man, and shall come forth." We do not look our last 
upon our believing friends, or on our beloved little ones, 
when we lay their remains in the grave. We shall see them 
again, and our hearts shall rejoice. "If we believe that Je- 
sus died, and rose again from the dead, even so them also 
who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." Then, again, 
the child shall be restored to the mother, the friend to the 
friend, the brother to the brother, and they shall be " forever 
with the Lord." Truly, in view of this revelation, we may 
exclaim, " Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, has abolished death, 
and brought life and immortality to light through the Gos- 
pel." Let the bereaved among us, therefore, be comforted. 
For good and sufficient reasons, the resurrection of our loved 
ones has been delayed ; but it will take place, and the reun- 
ion between us will be all the sweeter because of the bitter- 
ness- of the separation that has gone before. 

Further, we can not read this histor}^ wherein the great- 
ness of Elijah comes so prominently out, without being im-' 
pressed with the peerless pre-eminence of the Lord Jesus 
Christ. Elijah strives after this miracle with exhaustive ef- 
fort ; but when Christ raises the de^d, it is with infinite ease. 
Elijah was a servant, Christ was the Son, of God. Elijah 
wrought with delegated power ; Christ wrought with his own 
might. Elijah wrought through prayer, securing thereby that 
Jehovah should put forth his omnipotence; Jesus wrought 
by commanding, in the majesty of his own inherent divinity. 
Elijah strained after this miracle like one, who, standing upon 

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Death and Resurrection. 6i 

tiptoe, seeks to reach something that is far above him ; Jesus, 
when he raised the widow's son, or the daughter of Jairus, or 
the brother of Mary, did so with the ease of one who is stoop- 
ing to do something that is quite within his power. The wom- 
an of Zarephath said to Elijah, when she received her son, 
"Now I know that thou art a man of God ;" but when Jesus 
came forth, in the royalty of his own might, from the tomb 
of Joseph, he was powerfully " declared to be the Son of 
God." Elijah was great, but Jesus was pre-eminently great- 
er ; and when, upon the Mount of Transfiguration, the voice 
from the excellent glory made proclamation," This is my be- 
loved son, in whom I am well pleased : hear ye him," Elijah 
himself was forward to do Jesus homage. While, therefore, 
we do honor to the servant, let us not forget to do still great- 
er honor to the Lord. Elijah is a man of God ; Jesus is the 
God of man, yea, the God-man, the Alpha and the Omega, 
the First and the Last, who alone can say, " I am he that 
liveth, and was dead ; and behold, I am alive for evermore. 
Amen ; and have the keys of hell and of death." 

But now, leaving the miracle to speak for itself, let us 
group under a few observations the practical lessons from 
this whole subject. 

Let us learn, in the first place, that no circumstances in- 
sure exemption from disturbing unsettlements in God's prov- 
idence. The members of this household in Zarephath might 
without any presumption have supposed that they were, for 
the time, under the special protection of Jehovah. Elijah 
had been sent thither by the express command of God, with 
the promise that he should be sustained. His support had 
come to him through the kindness of a widow, who had been 
rewarded for her benevolence by God's continued and mirac- 
ulous provision, and it was still essential that he should be 
for some time longer an inmate of her dwelling. Hence, if 
one may ever be warranted to believe that all evil will be 

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62 Elijah the Prophet. 

warded off from himself and those connected with him, sure- 
ly Elijah might have so believed in the case before us. But, 
lo ! even at such a time we have an illustration of the great 
law that God's people are ever liable to providential disturb- 
ances and dislodgments, for just then the child of this wid- 
ow suddenly expired. Now, if we have such a thing as trial 
coming here in such uncommon circumstances, how much 
more may we expect it in our ordinary lives ? We talk of 
being comfortably settled ! Alas ! we know not what we say. 
We might as well speak of a ship as settled in mid-ocean. 
Ever as we think that, like Elijah here, we have got into 
some quiet resting-place, there comes some unlooked-for 
trouble, that puts our faith to the proof, and dissipates all 
our fondest imaginations of permanency. When we are be- 
ginning to feel comfortable, and saying to ourselves, now we 
shall have a breathing -time, some singular combination of 
circumstances, the possibility of which we had not foreseen 
or even conceived of, comes and deranges all our plans, as 
it says to us, " Ye have tarried long enough in this arbor- of 
ease : arise, and go forward ; for through much tribulation 
you must enter the kingdom." 

Thus we are sent through the experience which the Psalm- 
ist describes in these familiar words : " In my prosperity I 
said, I shall never be moved ; Lord, by thy favor thou hast 
made my mountain to stand strong : thou didst hide thy face, 
and I was troubled." We are never exempt from trouble. 
Yea, even in circumstances when it might almost seem that 
we could calculate on continuing as we are, it is sometimes 
the case that our sorest trials come upon us. Herein is that 
saying true, " It is the unexpected that happens ;" and nev- 
er, so long as we are upon the earth, dare we count upon im- 
munity from calamity. Neither character, nor privilege, nor 
the commission of God to do some great work in his service 
will insure us against tribulation. Something will evermore 

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Death and Resurrection. 63 

come to shake us out of our security, and to make us feel 
that we know not what a day may bring forth. We may have 
deliverance from some great evil which for long we have been 
anticipating, even as this woman and her son were saved from 
death by famine ; but in some new form, and in some un- 
looked-for manner, affliction will come upon us " to humble 
us, and to prove us, and to know what is in our hearts, wheth- 
er we will serve the Lord or no." Thus we are kept ever on 
the watch to teach us entire dependence upon God himself. 
He is the unchangeable jock ; they who build on him shall 
never be moved. But if we seek to raise our Babel tower of 
permanent happiness on any earthly foundation, we shall soon 
be put to confusion. It were as wise to found a house on the 
seamy side of Vesuvius, with the constant danger of being 
shaken by the upheavings of the mountain, or buried beneath 
the fiery lava and the burning ashes, as to attempt to build 
abiding felicity on an earthly thing, or to hope for undis- 
turbed settlement in this fleeting world. " They build too 
low-who build beneath the skies." 

Let us learn, in the second place, that these providential 
unsettlements reveal us to ourselves, by placing us face to 
face with God. When this child died, his mother cried to 
the prophet, "Art thou come to bring my sin to remem- 
brance, and to slay my son ?" Clearly, therefore, there was 
some sin-stain upon her conscience; and though we dare 
not say that the iniquity caused the death of her child, yet 
God, through that dispensation, opened her eyes to her guilt 
and danger. All through her experience of famine, with 
death daily coming nearer, her conscience, so far as appears, 
was asleep ; nor was it roused to action by her experience 
of God's goodness in sending her deliverance through the 
visit of Elijah. But now there comes upon her a new trial, 
severe in the proportion in which it was unexpected, and she 
cries, "I am a sinner." 

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64 Elijah the Prophet. 

Nor is this any singular experience. It is by such sudden 
and unsettling providences yet that God reveals us to our- 
selves. The strain of the storm makes manifest the weak 
point in the vessel, and stirs up tiie mariner to have it 
strengthened. So the tension of trial shows where the char- 
acter is defective ; and if we wisely learn the* lesson, we will 
seek at once to have it renewed. How often has the care- 
less sinner been aroused, first to agony and then to conver- 
sion, by the coming on him of some unlooked-for calamity ! 
Had things continued to go smoothly and prosperously with 
him, his conscience would have slumbered on, and no salva- 
tion would have been sought by him ; but trouble has re- 
vealed need, and need has impelled to prayer; and the an- 
swer to the prayer has been the new and higher life of the 

Thus unbroken prosperity is not by any means a blessing 
to the sinner. The Psalmist has put this thought most sug- 
gestively when he says of some, " Because they have no 
changes, therefore they fear not God ;" and, in the same 
connection we all remember that Jeremiah says of Moab, 
" He hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled 
on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, 
neither hath he gone into captivity : therefore his taste re- 
mained in him, and his scent is not changed." An English 
poet has said that " we rise on stepping-stones of our dead 
selves to higher things;" but only by calamity such as that 
which came upon this woman are our evil selves revealed 
and slain ; that is, if we learn its lesson rightly. Therefore, 
to those who improve it properly, beneath the rough and out- 
er rind of the trial there is a kernel of sweet and wholesome 

But remember : to have the blessing, we must renounce 
the evil which the calamity reveals, and turn from it unto 
the Lord. How has it been with you, my brethren, when 

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Death and Resurrection. 65 

these unsettlements have come upon you ? Have you been 
benefited by them ? Have they drained off from you the 
lees of iniquity in which you had been settling? Happy 
they who have been shaken out of themselves, no matter at 
what cost, if only they have found the Lord I But if we have 
refused to learn from God's dislodging dealings with us, we 
may expect yet heavier sorrows ; and if these be disregarded, 
then, heaviest of all, we may prepare for everlasting doom. 
You know how you shuddered before God as he came to 
you in your earthly trial ; but if that were so, how will you 
stand aghast as you meet him before his atvful throne of 
judgment! In mercy God has sent these minor trials be- 
fore the last and severest of all, that from the knowledge 
of ourselves which they have given us we may be stirred up 
to prepare for that which is still before us. But if we could 
not endure the lighter, how shall we bear the heavier? "If 
thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, 
then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the 
land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then 
how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan ?"* 

Notice, thirdly, that these unsettling providences only fur- 
nish the believer with a new errand to God's throne of grace. 
Behold how calm Elijah was all through this trying season I 
He felt the child's death keenly : deeply, too, he felt the moth- 
er's recrimination ; yet he is not shaken out of his faith by 
the shock. Nay, rather his confidence in God is only stimu- 
lated to new boldness, as he carries the body up to his cham- 
ber, and beseeches God that the soul may come into it again. 
Our affliction is sanctified to us when it sends us more ear- 
nestly to our knees. Had Elijah been moved to say, "To 
what purpose is all my earnestness in Jehovah's service, if 
those who befriend me are to be thus distressed?" or had 

* Jeremiah xii., 5. 

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66 Elijah the Prophet. 

he determined that he would abjure his allegiance to Jeho- 
vah, then he would have shown that his zeal had not been 
rightly rooted or deeply cherished. But when, in the hour 
of his perplexity, he goes straight to God, we have a new 
proof of the genuineness of his piety. Tell me where a man 
goes first in the hour of sorrow and unsettlement, and I will 
tell you his character. You can not hesitate about Hezeki- 
ah's piety, when you see him spread Rabshakeh's letter be- 
fore the Lord ; you can have no doubt about that of Nehe- 
miah, when you read of his praying to God while yet his mas- 
ter's cup was in his hand ; nor can you have any uncertainty 
about that of Paul, when you observe that his thorn in the 
flesh sent him to his Lord. Whither did you go in trouble ? 
On whom did you call for deliverance ? To whom did you 
cling for support ? Answer these questions honestly, and you 
will know whether or not you are the children of God ; and 
if haply you find that you are not yet numbered among his 
sons, give no sleep to your eyes until you have secured the 
priceless blessing of adoption through faith in Him who died 
for our sins, according to the Scriptures. 

Finally, observe that the deliverance which God gives to 
his people in the time of their unsettlement, and in answer to 
their prayers, leads them to a more assured confidence in him- 
self. This woman had a firmer faith in Elijah than ever after 
she had received her son alive at his hands ; but Elijah him- 
self had more confidence than ever in his God. Indeed, if we 
will consider it rightly, we shall see that it was by such ex- 
periences as this that Jehovah was training his servant up 
to that sublimity of faith and courage which he evinced on 
Mount Carmel, when he confronted Ahab and the priests 
and prophets of Baal. You perhaps at first are disposed to 
marvel at the boldness of the proposals which he made that 
day. I confess I have often done so ; but now, when I think 
of his bearing on that memorable occasion, in its connection 

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Death and Resurrection. 67 

with the antecedent incidents in his history, my wonder dis- 
appears. Elijah would not have dared to make such pro- 
posals to Ahab, or to offer such prayers to Jehovah as he 
then did, had it not been for tlie fact that God had heard 
and answered prayers of similar boldness which he had al- 
ready presented. It was easy for him to ask fire to come 
down and consume his sacrifice, after he had seen God re- 
store a dead child to life in response to his entreaty. Take 
his procedure on Carmel by itself, apart from all the other 
chapters in his life, and it does seem marvelously strange ; 
but look at it as the last and highest of a series of experi- 
ences of the power of prayer, and it seems perfectly natural. 
By the triumphs of his former faith he had ascended to that 
confidence which he manifested on the great occasion which 
proved to be the highest tide-mark of his career. 

But it has been so with all the great ones in the peerage 
of faith. Look at Abraham ; and as you see him ascend- 
ing Moriah to sacrifice, his son, you wonder at the calm sub- 
limity of his heroic obedience. You think it almost super- 
human. You can not understand how he attained to it. 
But when you go back over his previous history, the whole 
thing is explained. He could not have reached this altitude 
by one bounding leap, but by all those unsettlements and 
trials which came upon him from the day when he left the 
far land of Ur; and by the grace which brought him through 
them all, God had led him up, step by step, to this last and 
terrible ordeal, which was also his crowning triumph. His 
experience, oft repeated, and each time with added elements 
of grace, of God's faithfulness on occasions of necessity, en- 
abled him to overcome in that supreme moment of uttermost 
extremity. So, again, mih Paul. Look at his calmness as, 
confronting death, he said, " I am now ready to be offered," 
and you will find that it is the natural result of the experi- 
ences of his life. In his many perils Jesus had been beside 

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68 Elijah the Prophet. 

him. Amidst the dangers that beset him in Corinth ; in the 
prison at Jerusalem ; on the deck of the drifting ship, ere yet 
it went to pieces on the Maltese shore ; before magistrates 
and judges and imperial governors, Christ had been his 
faithful friend, and had fulfilled to him his word of promise. 
Therefore he could trust him thoroughly once more, and say, 
" I know whom I have believed." 

Thus, while unsettlements reveal the soul to itself, they also 
reveal the Saviour to the soul ; and he who has been supported 
through them by his grace in the past can look forward with 
calm assurance to the future, feeling that every thing will be 
well. The God who, in answer to prayer, did not refuse to re- 
store the child to life, would not, Elijah was sure, leave him 
dishonored before BaaVs priests on Carmel ; and he who has 
been with us in the checkered scenes of life will not forsake 
us when we come to die. Each new deliverance he gives us 
is a new stimulus to faith ; and the more numerous such ex- 
periences are, the more heroic does our faith become. The 
result is glorious, though some stages of the process may be 
bitter. This " now I know" of the woman, in its clear assur- 
ance, was worth the agony of the trial through which she at- 
tained it ; and while we are feeling the heaviness of calami- 
ty, we may solace ourselves with the thought that our expe- 
rience under it will remain with us, for stimulus and support, 
through every after-affliction. Thus the riddle of Manoah*s 
son repeats itself. In the carcass of the slain lion there is a 
precious honey-comb. " Out of the eater comes forth meat, 
and out of the bitter comes forth sweetness." 

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I Kings xviiL, 1-19. 

THE opening verse of this chapter contains two marks 
of time — the one indefinite, in the phrase " after many 
days ;" the other somewhat precise, in the clause " in the third 
year." The former of these refers, in my judgment, to the 
duration of Elijah's sojourn at Zarephath ; the latter to that 
of the drought throughout the land. This view of the case, 
indeed, involves a slight appearance of discrepancy between 
the statement here made and that which is repeated twice 
in the New Testament, as to the time during which the fam- 
ine lasted; for it will be remembered that both our Lord 
Jesus himself and the apostle James have spoken of the 
drought in Elijah's days as having continued for " three years 
and six months."* Some have attempted to remove this dif- 
ficulty by alleging that the words translated " in the third 
year " might with equal propriety be rendered " after the third 
year ;" but as I have not been able to verify this assertion 
by any incontrovertible instance, I prefer the explanation 
given by Dr. Jamieson, which is to the following effect : " The 
early rain in Palestine fell in our March, the latter rain in 
our October. Though Ahab might at first have ridiculed 
Elijah's announcement, yet when neither of these rains fell 
in its season, he was incensed against the prophet as the 
cause of the nation's suffering, and compelled him to consult 

♦ Luke iv., 25 ; James v., 17. 

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70 Elijah the Prophet. 

his safety by concealment. Now, this might have been six 
months after the king had been told that there should be 
neither dew nor rain"; and from this period the three years 
in this passage may be computed, whereas the three years 
and six months of the New Testament may be reckoned 
from the date when Elijah first confronted Ahab."* In any 
case, toward the end of three years and six months after his 
former visit to the king, " the word of the Lord came to the 
prophet at Zarephath saying, Go, show thyself unto Ahab, 
and I will send rain upon the earth." 

With mingled feelings of sadness and of delight, we may 
be sure that Elijah received this command. It enjoined him 
to leave a home where, for at least two years, he had been 
retired and happy, and to bid farewell to his Gentile hostess 
and her boy, both of whom had become objects of special 
interest to him, and he could not part from them without re- 
gret. But, on the other hand, if I have read his character 
correctly, he delighted in activity, more especially when there 
was added to it the exciting element of danger. Hence, as 
the eager warrior hastens to the battle-field, Elijah was pos- 
itively attracted to the conflict that was before him, the rath- 
er as he recognized in it the opportunity of his life, when, as 
the servant of Jehovah, he should be able to strike a decisive 
blow at the Baalism of the court and the indifferentism of 
the country. On the whole, therefore, while sorry to leave 
his hostess and her boy, we may believe that he was rather 
glad than otherwise to be recalled to public service, and that 
he took his way toward Samaria, not only without dismay, 
but with the earnestness of a man who felt himself" straight- 
ened," until his perilous work was accomplished. 

But, alas 1 what a dismal prospect met his gaze at every 

* " Commentary, Critical, Experimental, and Practical, on the Old and 
New Testaments," by Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, vol. ii., p. 352. 

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Re-appearance. 71 

step of his journey ! In very deed, "the famine was sore in 
the land." No waving corn-fields or leafy vineyards could 
he anywhere perceive 1 Not even a patch of green appeared 
to rest his eye with its refreshing verdure I Nor was there 
near any dwelling the barn-yard, with its store of plenty, as 
of yore. All was brown and barren desolation. No sounds 
' of joy fell upon his ear. The harp of nature was for the 
time unstrung. The purling of brooks, the carol of birds, 
the lowing of cattle, were heard no more. The song of the 
reaper, the mirth of the vintage, and the joy of harvest-home 
were things for the time unknown j for " the Lord had caused 
to cease from the cities of Israel and from the streets of Sa- 
maria the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice 
of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, for the land 
had become desolate." Again, as at the first, " the ground 
was cursed for man's sake," and men were taught anew that 
it is an evil thing and a bitter to forsake the Lord. 

As the prophet went on toward the city of Ahab's resi- 
dence, he met a cavalcade under the leadership of the king's 
steward, going forth to survey a wide tract of country, to see 
whether any fountain of water could be discovered, or any 
patches of grass, so that, if possible, the royal horses and 
mules might be preserved alive. Such an excursion is an 
indication of the terrible extent to which the famine had 
gone, especially when we take in connection with it the fact 
that Ahab himself had gone forth with another party on a 
similar errand, but in a different direction. It seems strange, 
indeed, to us that a king and his steward should have gone 
personally on such missions; but this is only one among 
many illustrations that might be given of the primitive man- 
ners of Eastern magnates. Even at this day something of 
the same sort may be seen among the emirs of Arabia, and 
the chiefs of Central Asia, for, according to Dr. Kitto, " none 
of these high personages would think it in any way beneath 

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72 Elijah the Prophet. 

their dignity to lead an expedition in search of grass or wa- 
ter. • The matter is, indeed, regarded as of so much impor- 
tance that it is a sort of official duty in them to conduct the 
search ; and success in it contributes very materially to their 
popularity among their people, who are apt to ascribe the 
happy result in a great measure, if not wholly, to the fortune 
of their chief.'** 

It is another instance of the special providence of God, 
that the steward Obadiah, with whom Elijah was now brought 
into contact, was a sincere adherent to Jehovah. He was 
not at all such a person as one would have expected to find 
in a post of honor in Ahab's house. From his youth up he 
had been a devout servant of the Lord. He had not seen 
his w^ay, indeed, to follow the example of those priests and 
Levites and servants of Jehovah who, in the days of Jerobo- 
am, left their lands behind them, and went into the country 
of Judah, in order that they might enjoy the privilege of wor- 
shiping the God of Israel according to the Mosaic ritual.t 
But, still, he was a true servant of the Lord. Perhaps Ahab 
overlooked his piety, because he valued his character as a 
servant, and could ill afford to do without him. Probably, 
also, Jezebel was deterred from urging his dismissal or his 
death, because she knew how indispensable to his comfort 
Ahab believed Obadiah to be. But, however it came about, 
he was the steward of Ahab's hoiJse. Yet, though he held 
that position, he was true to Jehovah, and his very presence 
in the palace enabled him to do signal service to some of 
his brethren. ' For when Jezebel had endeavored to destroy 
all the schools of the prophets in the land, and had put to 
death most of the young men who were students at these in- 
stitutions, Obadiah was the means of sheltering and feeding 

* " Daily Bible Illustrations," vol. iv., p. 252. 
t 2 Chronicles xi., 13-17. 

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Re-appearance. 73 

no fewer than one hundred, whom he had concealed " by fif- 
ties in a cave." Thus, though this good man had not himself 
the martyr spirit of Elijah, he had the heart to help God's 
servants ; and he used the position which he held in such a 
way as to protect those who were in danger. He had faith, 
but he had not added to it the highest degree of courage. 
He had some courage, indeed ; for without that he would not 
have dared to shelter the prophets, and feed them in the 
cave ; but he had not such a kind and measure of courage 
as to stand openly out and avow himself the protector of his 
brethren, and one with them in faith. Or, perhaps, we may ex- 
plain his conduct in another way. It is possible that he felt 
he could really do more to help forward the Lord's cause 
where he was than he could elsewhere, and So he kept his 
post in Ahab's house. At any rate, there he was, like " a lily 
among thorns ;" and one can not but observe the providence 
which brought him and Elijah together before the prophet 
went to meet the king. 

As soon as Obadiah saw him, he recognized him, and said, 
"Art thou that my lord Elijah ?" whereupon he answered, "I 
am : go, tell thy lord. Behold, Elijah is here." This order 
greatly disconcerted the timid Obadiah. He knew that Ahab- 
had hatred enough for Elijah to put him to death ; but he 
believed also that God loved his servant too well to allow 
him to fall a victim to the^royal violence. Hence he feared 
that if he went to give Elijah's message to the monarch, God 
would in some way or other take the prophet away; and 
then the kmg, foiled in his anticipated revenge, w^ould turn 
upon him with the fury of a wild beast that has been robbed 
of its prey. He was, therefore, most unwilling to do as Eli- 
jah had commanded, and he regarded the fact that he should 
be asked to do any thing of the kind as an indication that 
he had committed some special sin for which some signal 
punishment was to come upon him. Naturally, therefore, he 


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74 Elijah the Prophet. 

rehearsed to the prophet, not in the way of vainglory, but as 
an indication of his true-hearted sincerity, how he had pre- 
served from the intolerance of Jezebel no fewer than a hun- 
dred of the sons of the prophets. His touching appeal elic- 
ited from Elijah a most solemn asseveration that he would 
really confront Ahab ; and, so fortified, Obadiah went and 
told his master, who speedily came to meet the prophet. 

As he drew near, determined to have whatever of advan- 
tage the first word might afford, the king, with much swagger 
and show of indignation, said, "Art thou he that troubleth 
Israel ?" He had no word to say of his own sin ; he forgot 
the iniquity of the people of the land, of which he had been 
the instigator, and in which he had been the leader ; he took 
no note of the hand of Jehovah in the calamity which had 
come upon his kingdom, and spoke as if the whole matter 
had been a mere personal difference between him and Elijah. 
He traced the drought only to the prophet. He cast the en- 
tire blame of it upon him. Much as if one suffering under a 
painful disease should blame the doctor for producing it, 
because, knowing the habits of the patient, he had predicted 
that it would come. But Elijah was not the man to be brow- 
beaten into silence by the words of an angry monarch ; and 
so, with no mere vulgar recrimination, but with the calm dig- 
nity of the faithful preacher who desired to send the arrow 
quivering into his hearer's heart, h# made reply, " I have not 
troubled Israel ; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye 
have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast 
followed Baalim." And then he proposed that a solemn as- 
sembly of the people should be convened on Mount Carmel, 
when, in the presence of Israel's thousands, the controversy 
between Jehovah and Baal might be settled by Elijah as the 
representative of the one, and the four hundred and fifty 
prophets of Baal as the partisans of the other. To such a 
proposal the king could make no plausible objection. So 

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Re-appearance. 75 

they parted to prepare for the dread encounter, Elijah in the 
solitude of communion with God, Ahab in the palace of Jez- 
reel, surrounded by Jezebel and her favorite priests. 

There let us leave them for the time, while we dwell a 
while on some practical reflections which are suggested by 
the history which we have now rehearsed. We have here 
three characters : first, a godly man, Obadiah ; second, an un- 
godly man, Ahab ; and, third, the servant of the Lord, Elijah, 
dealing with each of the others according to his character. 

Let us look, first, at the godly man. As I have already 
hinted, he is found where we should scarcely have thought 
of seeking for him. He is in the service, yea, in the very 
house, of the idolatrous Ahab. Yet even there he is seeking 
conscientiously to do God's work. Now, this is by no means 
an unusual thing. Commonly we think of the army as a 
profession in which religion is at a discount ; and when one 
hears of a youth enlisting, he is apt to fear that he is going 
all astray. Yet Cornelius was an officer in a Roman legion, 
and some of Paul's most interesting converts belonged to 
the barracks of the Imperial City. So, in more modern 
times, the names of Cromwell, Gustavus Adolphus, Gardner, 
Havelock, Vickers, Howard, and a host of others will imme- 
diately occur to us as illustrations of the fact that most de- 
voted Christians may be found among military men. Similar- 
ly, there are certain localities into which one would scarcely 
go with the expectation of discovering an ardent follower of 
Jesus. There are streets in all krge cities which have such 
an evil reputation that you would no more think of entering 
them to look for a Christian than you would of going to seek 
for a tropical plant within the arctic circle. Yet every dis- 
trict visitor will corroborate me when I say that sometimes, 
even in these uninviting neighborhoods, you will come upon 
such specimens of faith, of integrity, of cheerfulness, and of 
purity, as will gladden your heart, and encourage you in the 

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76 Elijah the Prophet. 

work you are attempting to perform. If the question, " Can 
there any good thing come out of Nazareth ?" had been per- 
mitted to weigh with him exclusively, Nathanael had not rec- 
ognized even the Lord Jesus Christ. So we must beware of 
coming to a hasty judgment of a man's character from the 
simple consideration of the place in which we have found 
him, and of the circumstances by which he is surrounded. 

But there is another department in which we may apply 
this lesson. It is most instructive to us in its bearing on ec- 
clesiastical matters. We must distinguish, for example, be- 
tween the Roman Catholic Church as such, and many of 
those who may be found, so to say, in its house. It would 
be unjust as well as uncharitable in us to suppose that, at the 
era of the Reformation, Luther had no friends or sympathiz- 
ers, who yet for reasons, which to themselves, at least, were 
sufficient, never left the Church in which they had been 
reared. We honor, indeed, in the highest degree the great 
Reformer as a second Elijah ; but we must not forget that 
Christ had even then many Obadiahs who remained within 
the Church of Rome. Just as in this old history, this royal 
steward had neither gone to Judah, like the priests and Le- 
vites who had left their lands in Jeroboam's day, nor had 
publicly identified himself wiih Elijah, while yet he was a sin- 
cere friend of God's servants, and a devout worshiper o( the 
Lord himself; so I can imagine a guileless, timid soul re- 
maining, even in the excitement of controversy, within the 
Roman Catholic Church, under the idea that he could do 
more for Christ and for his servants there than he could do 
elsewhere. Of course, we all see that if every believer in 
the doctrine of justification by faith alone had acted on this 
principle, there would have been no Reformation ; and we 
instinctively feel that the prudence or policy of those who 
did so act had overshadowed their courage. Yet we may — 
nay, must — admit that they were sincere followers of God up 

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Re-appearance. 77 

to the measure of their light ; nor can we forget that at differ- 
ent eras there have been men in that Church like Bernard, 
and Lyra, and F^n^lon, and Pascal. 

I might easily illustrate the same principle by other historic 
cases. Thus, it would be wrong to declare that all the good 
and faithful ministers left the Church of England on that black 
Bartholomew-day when the two thousand non-conformists left 
their parishes, their pulpits, and their parsonages for Christ. 
So again, in Scotland, we can not help sympathizing, both po- 
litically and ecclesiastically, with the noble stand made by the 
Covenanters — a stand which did more than many things to 
win civil and religious freedom for Great Britain ; but neither, 
on the other hand, can we unqualifiedly condemn the good 
Leighton, who was induced to accept a bishopric under the 
idea that in such a position he might do something to heal 
the divisions of his native country. No one can read his 
commentary on first Peter without discovering that its au- 
thor was a heavenly minded man ; and though he was in the 
house of Ahab when he was Bishop of Dunkeld, still he was 
a godly man there, and is not to be ostracized without mercy 
for his mitre's sake. Again, in more recent times, it is with- 
in the knowledge of the present generation that the contro- 
versy which resulted in the formation of the Free Church of 
Scotland was mainly carried on between those who were 
decidedly evangelical, and those who were cold moderates, 
who dealt in moral essays, and passed the Gospel " by on 
the other side ;" yet it would be absurd to maintain that all 
the good people and all the evangelical ministers left the 
Scotch Church at the disruption. We must distinguish be- 
tween the character of the man and the place in which we 
find him. He may be in what we consider a house of Ahab, 
but he may be an Obadiah still. 

But passing from this aspect of the subject, let us go a 
step further, and say that the godly man may serve Jehovah 

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78 Elijah the Prophet. 

in almost any circumstances. Obadiah managed to keep a 
good conscience, even in Ahab*s house, and he used his po- 
sition to render a kind of service to Jehovah's cause which 
even Elijah himself could not have given. I do not suppose 
that there was another man at that time in the country who 
could, without suspicion and with thorough security, have pro- 
tected the prophets of the Lord save himself, and he did it 
admirably. He might have made his office an excuse for 
doing nothing ; but, instead, he made it the means of accom- 
plishing a great deal. And in other things he acted consci- 
entiously. He never bowed the knee to Baal ; and he kept 
himself clear of the national apostasy. No doubt this might 
cost him the favor of Jezebel ; but that he did not regard. 
He rendered unto Ahab the things which were Ahab's, and 
unto God the things which were God's. Now, this may teach 
us that we should never allow our circumstances to keep us 
from doing what we believe to be right Nehemiah could 
serve God in a Persian palace ; Daniel and his three friends 
could retain their integrity in a Babylonian college ; and Paul 
could turn the tent-maker's shop, wherein he labored at Cor- 
inth, into a school for Christ. 

You often hear it said, as an excuse for one's lack of ear- 
nestness in the Christian life, or for his falling into positive 
sin, "You must remember the exposed position in which he is 
placed, and make allowance for his circumstances." The ar- 
tisans whose daily craft takes them into the roughest places 
of the city are apt to say, "Just think of the temptations that 
confront us everywhere all along these rivers, and of the sort 
6f people we are continually meeting." The sailor will ex- 
claim, " How do you suppose we can maintain a Christian 
character on shipboard ? You don't know what a swearing 
lot surrounds us, or if you did, you would understand at once 
that it's useless trying to be religious at sea." Nor are these 
the only classes who would thus apologize for their conform- 

Digitized by 


Re-appearance. 79 

ity to the world. In our counting-rooms and stores, in Wall 
Street, and on the floors of our exchanges, there are not a few 
who say, in effect, words like these : " Religion is all very well 
for the fireside and for the church, but we can not be regu- 
lated by its maxims in business ;" and who give us to under- 
stand that if they were to act in their daily callings on the 
principles of the Sermon on the Mount, they would soon find 
themselves in the bankruptcy court. But is it so ? Is it, in- 
deed, the case that men can not serve God in the workshop, 
and in the ship, and in the store ? So much the worse, if 
it be so, for these occupations ; for if we can not honor God 
in them, then they must be in and of themselves sinful, and 
must be given up. But is it so ? Have there been no emi- 
nent Christians among our successful merchants, or our skill- 
ed operatives, or our noble seamen? There have; and I 
fearlessly assert that if our business or trade be not sinful, 
as playing on the credulity of men, or ministering to their 
vices, we may serve God in it, whatever it be, or whithersoev- 
er it takes us. Nay, the more difficulties we have to contend 
against, the greater ultimately will be our strength of charac- 
ter. Timid as he was, Obadiah was a more courageous man 
in Ahab's house than he would have been elsewhere, for the 
resistance which he there met with developed strength in 
him. Like the palm-tree, the Christian- character grows firm- 
er by being weighted, and becomes hardier by being exposed 
to opposition. 

I have somewhere read the following incident in the life 
of a distinguished botanist. Being exiled from his native 
land, he obtained employment as an under-gardener in the 
service of a nobleman. While he was in this situation, his 
master received a valuable plant, the nature and habits of 
which were unknown to him. It was given to the garden- 
er to be taken care of, and he, fancying it to be a tropical 
production, put it into the hot-house (for it was winter), and 

Digitized by 


8o Elijah the Prophet. 

dealt with it as with the others under the glass. But it be- 
gan to decay. He brought his master to look at it. They 
thought it dying, and, as a last resort, were going to put it 
in a yet hotter chamber, when the strange under-gardener 
asked permission to exaraiile it. As soon as he looked at it 
he said, " This is an arctic plant : you are killing it by the 
tropical heat into which you have introduced it." So he took 
it outside, and exposed it to the frost, and, to the dismay 
of the upper-gardener, heaped pieces of ice around the flow- 
er-pot ; but the result vindicated his wisdom, for straightway 
it began to recover, and was soon as strong as ever. Now, 
such a plant is Christian character. It is not difficulty that 
is dangerous to it, but ease. Put it into a hot-house, separate 
it from the world, surround it with luxury, hedge it in from 
every opposition, and you take the surest means of killing it. 
But take it out into the frost, let it meet and overcome temp- 
tation in the way of daily duty, let it come into contact, as it 
seeks to do its work, with the icy spirit of the world ; in a 
word, let it have to contend with difficulty, and you thereby 
nurture it into strength. Do not I speak truth in all this? 
Where will you find nobler, manlier, or more admirable spec- 
imens of Christianity than among our merchants, our sea- 
men, and our artisans ? When they are truly Christ's, they 
are also nobly and magnificently his. Tell me not, therefore, 
that you can not serve God. where you are. You know bet- 
ter. You know you can, if you will. Be it that you are in 
the house of Ahab ; then you niay yet be like Obadiah there, 
and keep yourself unspotted from its idolatry. 

But now we turn to the contemplation of the ungodly man, 
Ahab ; and the first thing we see about him in this affair is 
the utter selfishness by which he was actuated. He went 
himself in one direction, and sent Obadiah in another, to 
scour the country for supplies ; but for what ? . that he might 
feed the famishing multitudes of Israel ? No ; but that he 

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Re-appearance. 8i 

might save his horses and mules alive 1 Thus the animals 
that contributed to his dignity, or ministered to his ease, 
were of more importance to him than the lives of his sub- 
jects. Heartless man! you say; and yet how much of the 
same sort of thing there is even in this so-called Christian 
land ! What extremes of luxury and misery meet and touch 
each other in this city ! Within the home of affluence, you 
will see, beneath the lustre of many lamps, the throng of 
beauty and fashion, attired in dresses of the richest fabric 
and the fairest hue. They enjoy themselves to the utter- 
most with music and dance, and then adjourn to the feast of 
plenty ; while outside, in the chill darkness, within hearing 
of the mirth that falls like hailstones on her heart, sits on a 
door-step a poor child of shame, shivering in the frost, and 
pining with hunger I Alas ! alas ! is it not true of too many 
among us jthat they pet their horses, and pamper their lap- 
dogs, while they forget the misery of their fellow-men ? With 
what scathing scorn has Miss Procter exposed this sore evil 
in her native land ! and, as to some extent it is true also of 
ourselves, I may be pardoned for introducing her lines here : 

" It is cold, dark midnight ; yet listen 

To the patter of tiny feet. 
Is it one of your dogs, fair lady. 

Who whines in the bleak cold street ? 
Is it one of your silken spaniels 

Shut out in the snow and sleet ?" 

" My dogs sleep warm in their baskets, 

Safe from the darkness and snow ; 
All the beasts in our Christian England 

Find pity wherever they go. 
Those are only the homeless children 

Who are wandering to and fro." 

" Look out in the gusty darkness — 
I have seen it again and again, 


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82 Elijah the Prophet. 

That shadow that flits so slowly 

Up and down, past the window-pane. 
It is surely some criminal lurking 

Out there in the frozen rain ?" 

" Nay, our criminals all are sheltered, 

They are pitied and taught and fed : 
That is only a sister-woman. 

Who has got neither food nor bed. 
And the Night cries, * Sin to be living ;' 

And the River cries, * Sin to be dead !* 

" Look out at that farthest corner, 

Where the wall stands blank and bare : 

Can that be a pack which a peddler 
Has left and forgotten, there ? 

His goods lying out, unsheltered, 
Will be spoilt by the damp night air." 

" Nay, goods in our thrifty England 

Are not left to lie and grow rotten ; 
For each man knows the value 

Of silk or woolen or cotton. 
But in counting the riches of England, 

I think our poor are forgotten. 

" Our beasts and our thieves and our chattels 

Have weight for good or for ill ; 
But the poor are only his image. 

His presence, his word, his will : 
And so Lazarus lies at our door-step. 

And Dives neglects him still."* 

"But what would you have?" you say; "must we have 
nothing that we can do without, while ^others are starving ? , 
Must we literally sell all that we have, and give to the poor ?" 
To which I answer, " That certainly is not required of every 
one ; and in matters of this sort it is not possible for any 
man to draw a hard and fast line. These things must be left 

* "A Chaplet of Verses," by Adelaide A. Procter. 

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Re-appearance. 83 

to the conscience of each ; only let us seek to have our con- 
sciences enlightened by God's word and Spirit regarding 

In general, however, this principle holds good that we must 
not indulge ourselves in luxuries to the neglect of the claims 
of God's cause or God's poor upon us. It is only after we 
have discharged our consciences of all obligations under 
which, we lie to the poor, and to the cause of Christ, that we 
are warranted to turn to our horses and our carriages and 
our luxuries. Have you done your duty to the poor ? Have 
you met the cries of distress that are rising on your ear ? 
Have you given as God has prospered you to the cause of 
home and foreign missions, with which the glory of the Lord 
is so inseparably connected ? Have you done as much as 
in you lay to lift that load of debt from a noble institution 
that is doing daily service in the Master's cause .^ Then 
enjoy your luxuries, take the benefit of your carriage, and 
have, at the same time, the satisfaction that you are sharing 
your happiness with many others. 

Furthermore, I think this is also a safe and wholesome 
rule : that with every increase in our expenditure upon our- 
selves, whether in house, or in dress, or in thanksgiving fes- 
tivities, we should make a corresponding increase in our do- 
nations to the cause of God and of the needy. We ought 
to feel it to be a mockery of Jehovah to load ourselves with 
ornaments, and surround ourselves with luxuries, while, when 
we are asked to give to his cause or to his people, we say, 
"We can not afford it." Can not afford it! Then sacrifice 
some glittering jewel, or some mantel-piece ornament, or give 
a party less in the season, rather than make that humilia- 
ting confession. We are the stewards of God's bounty ; and 
what will he say to us at last, when we declare that we spent 
so much upon ourselves that w^e had nothing left to spend 
on him ? Go, my brethren ; be warned by the selfishness of 

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84 Elijah the Prophet. 

Ahab here, and take example rather from the poor widow of 
the former chapter, who, though at the brink of starvation, 
and about to prepare her last meal, gave the first portion to 
a fellow-sufferer, and received in return a blessing from the 

But we must remark, also, regarding Ahab's conduct here, 
that the consequence of ungodliness is blindness. See how 
he comes up to Elijah with the greatest confidence, as if no 
blame could be thrown upon himself, and the whole calam- 
ity were due to the prophet, "Art thou he that troubleth Is- 
rael?" His conscience bad become blunted by continual 
transgression, so that it ceased to record the evil which he 
had committed, or to upbraid him for it There is a point 
at which the mercury in the thermometer is itself frozen, and 
marks no lower degree of cold ; and there is a point in the 
sinner's career when his moral sense becomes torpid, and 
takes no further note of guilt. Ahab had, I fear, reached 
that stage in reference to his idolatry, and so he charged 
Elijah with causing that which was the result of his own sin. 

My hearer, unconverted ! will you take warning from this 
case ? If you persist in your course, your heart will be hard- 
ened into impenetrability ; you will become " past feeling," 
and will meet every messenger of God as if he were a guilty 
troubler of the community, while you are irr^roachable. 
Thus does the moral nature become positively perverted, 
putting light for darkness and darkness for light, sweet for 
bitter and bitter for sweet, good for evil and evil for good. 
Oh, beware of sinning yourself into such a state I Get a 
good conscience through faith in Jesus Christ ; and keep a 
good conscience by obedience unto him. Let the eye be 
single, that your whole body may be full of light ; for, " if the 
light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness !" 

I have now time only for the merest glance at the manner 
in which the servant of God dealt with each of these men, 

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Re-appearance. 85 

according to his character. With Obadiah, the prophet was 
considerate and tender, seeking even by an oath to remove 
all cause of anxiety from his heart. With Ahab, he was 
stern and unbending, so that soon he who came with a swag- 
ger went away with a halt. Thus, the true minister of Christ 
will seek to have words in season for each, according to the 
disposition of those with whom he comes into contact. With 
some he will be "gentle as a nurse, cherishing her children ;" 
others he will rebuke sharply. With some he will expostu- 
late tearfully ; others he will take by the hand and lead lov- 
ingly forward. What a perfect example in this, as in all oth- 
er respect?, has our Lord Jesus left us ! He spake in one 
strain to the sincere but timid Nicodemus, in another to the 
hypocritical scribes and Pharisees. He dealt in one way 
with the woman at the well, and in another with the trem- 
bling one who came behind him, seeking almost to steal a 
cure. He loved the young man who came to him inquiring 
the way, but retired sorrowfully, not yet prepared to part with 
his possessions ; but he replied with sternness to those who 
sought to entangle him in his talk. 

Brethren, " he that winneth souls is wise." Oh, may God 
give us who are in the ministry grace and wisdom to say the 
right thing to the right person at the right time 1 When one 
is thus wise as a preacher, he finds " acceptable words, even 
words of truth," and as he utters them, they become like 
"goads, or as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies." 
Seek not to deal with every one after some unvarying meth- 
od. As the physician suits his prescription to the disease, 
so let the Christian worker adapt his method to the charac- 
ter of him with whom he has to deal. It is right sometimes 
to be gentle, and it is right sometimes to be stern ; but wis- 
dom is needed to know when each is better. Had Jesus 
spoken to Nicodemus as he did to those who devoured wid- 
ows' houses, and for a pretense made long prayers, we should 

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86 Elijah the Prophe^t. 

never have heard of the ruler of the Jews again. Let him 
who would be useful, therefore, study human nature as well 
as the Gospel of the Lord, that he may know " to give to 
each his portion of meat in due season." But when stern- 
ness and severity are required, let us be sure that underneath 
there is a heart full of love to our fellow-sinner and of loyal- 
ty to the Lord whom we serve. The sternest things are then 
the strongest when the tear-drop quivers in the eyes of him 
who speaks them. 

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I Kings xviii.,21. 

N the shores of the Levant, and immediately to the 
south of Acre, there is a range of hills stretching out 
for five or six miles, and terminating in a somewhat rugged 
and precipitous promontory. The highest peak, resembling 
a flattened cone in shape, rises about fifteen hundred feet 
above the level of the sea, and is that which in Scripture is 
more particularly called Mount Carmel. It is described as 
the finest and most beautiful mountain in Palestine. Even 
yet, though the land is lying under a curse, there are evident 
traces of its former fertility; and in olden times it seems to 
have answered exactly to its name, which signifies " a fruitful 
field," or " a country of gardens and vineyards." At its base 
flows " that ancient river, the river Kishon," and away to the 
eastward stretches the magnificent plain of Esdraelon, ter- 
minating in the glory of Tabor and the mountains of Jordan, 
while in the far distance northward we catch a glimpse of 
the snowy peaks of Lebanon. 

Turning round and looking toward the west, we see, far 
as the eye can reach, the blue waves of the Mediterranean 
shimmering in the sunbeam ; to the right lies Acre, far be- 
neath us ; and to the left we take in the ruins of Cesaraea, 
the city on which Herod lavished his magnificence, and in 
which Paul delivered those unrivaled defenses before Felix, 
Festus, and Agrippa. 

Wherever we look there is either some beauty to satisfy 

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88 Elijah the Prophet. 

the eye, or some historical association to stir the heart Ev- 
ery name we mention brings up a memory with it, and he 
has no true soul within him who can look on such a land- 
scape, in the light of history, without having his spirit roused 
into enthusiasm, or kindled into rapture. 

On that plain before us, what battles have been fought ! 
What questions, with the fate of nations trembling in the bal- 
ance, have been settled ! There Barak and Deborah van- 
quished the haughty Sisera; there Gideon overcame the 
Midianites ; there the Philistines encountered Saul on that 
melancholy day when he fled before them to Gilboa, and, to 
escape their swords, fell upon his own ; there the banners of 
the Crusaders have fluttered in the breeze, and the eagles 
of Napoleon have been wetted by the evening dews. Here, 
too, where we stand, on the inner side of Mount Carmel, and 
near the eastern extremity of the range, in a noble, natural 
amphitheatre, there was decided, in the most signal and sol- 
emn manner, the great question between God and Baal. 
And, as we gaze upon the scene, we seem to see again the 
assembled throng of Israel, and to hear anew the voice of 
the valiant Elijah ringing out, clear and loud, as with the 
notes of a trumpet, these pointed words : " How long halt 
ye between two opinions } if the Lord be God, follow him ; 
but if Baal, then follow him." 

The exact spot where the events narrated in this chapter 
occurred has been thoroughly identified, an^ preserves in its 
name, ElMuhrakahy " the sacrifice," a memorial of the event. 
I can not better describe it than in the words of Dr. Porter, 
in his article on Mount Carmel, in Alexander's " Kitto :" 

"At the eastern extremity of the ridge, where the wooded 
heights of Carmel sink down into the usual bleakness of the 
hills of Palestine, is a terrace of natural rock. It is encom- 
passed by dense thickets of evergreens, and upon it are the 
remains of an old and massive square structure,built of large 

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The Conflict on Carmel. ' 89 

hewed stones. This is ^ElMuhrakah^ and here, in all prob- 
ability, stood Elijah's altar. The situation and environs an- 
swer in every particular to the various incidents in the narra- 
tive. A short distance from the terrace is a fountain, whence 
the water may have been brought which was poured round 
Elijah's sacrifice and altar. The terrace commands a noble 
view over the whole plain of Esdraelon from the banks of 
the Kishon, down at the bottom of the steep declivity, away 
to the distant hill of Gilboa, at whose base stood the royal 
city of Jezreel. To the eight hundred and fifty prophets 
ranged, doubtless, on the wide upland sweep just beneath 
the terrace, to the multitudes of people, many of whom may 
have remained on the plain, the altar of Elijah would be in 
full view, and they could all see in the evening twilight that 
* the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt-offering, and 
the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the wa- 
ter.' The people, then trembling with fear and indignation, 
seized, at Elijah's bidding, the prophets of Baal, * and Elijah 
brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them 
there.' On the lower declivities of the mountain is a mound 
called Tell-el'KusiSy * the hill of the priests,' which probably 
marks the very scene of the execution, i May not the pres- 
ent name of the Kishon itself have originated in this tragic 
event, as it is called Nahr-el-Mokatta^ * the river of slaugh- 
ter ?' J The prophet went up again to the altar, whichis near, 
but not upon the summit of the mountain. While he prayed, 
he said to his servant, * Go up, now, look toward the sea.' 
The sea is not visible from the terrace, but a few minutes* 
ascent leads to a peak which commands its whole expanse, 
^nd the modern name of the whole range of Carmel is Jebel 
Mar Elias, ' the mountain of St Elijah.' "* ^ 

And now, having obtained a clear idea of the topography 

* Alexander's ** Kitto ;" article Carmel 

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90 Elijah the Prophet. 

of the scene, let us endeavor to reproduce tlie events which 
were here enacted, and to gather up the lessons which they 
furnish for the present time. 

When the summons went forth for the national gathering, 
the people anxiously speculated on the object for which the 
assembly was convened ; and having learned to connect the 
name of Elijah with the terrible drought from which they 
had been suffering, they eagerly anticipated the appointed 
day. As it drew near, companies from every quarter of the 
land, might be seen wending their way toward the spot; and, 
when the morning dawned, there stood upon the terrace and 
the plain a moving multitude of men such as has been sel- 
dom witnessed on the surface of the earth. Ere long, at- 
tended by the members of his court, the king appears, and 
passes on> to the place of honor, marked by the spear fixed 
upright in the ground, which had been reserved for him. 
Again the crowd divides, and this time, with all the pomp 
and splendor of a stately procession, and arrayed in gorgeous 
vestments, the eight hundred and fifty priests and prophets 
of Baal march to their assigned position. 

And now there is a pause. Men wonder if Elijah will in- 
deed appear. Perhaps h.e has conveyed himself away ; per- 
haps he has seen the pageant from a distance, and in de- 
spair has given up the contest. " What 1 think ye that he 
will not come ?" is now the question ; when, lo ! across the 
shoulder of the mountain, fresh from communion with Jeho- 
vah, the man of God appears ! He has the air of one who 
has a solemn work to do. There is gravity in his deport- 
ment, firmness in his countenance, and lightning in his eye. 
Unabashed by the myriad throng before him, undazzled by 
the splendid garments of the idol-serving priests, unappalled 
by the haughty mien of Ahab and his courtiers, he passes on, 
and takes his place over against his powerful adversaries. 
Alone he seems in that immense multitude, and yet he is not 

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The Conflict on Carmel. 91 

alone, for God is with him. So, pausing for a moment 
to survey the scene, he hfts up his voice like a trumpet, 
and throws down the gage of battle in these burning 
words : " How long halt ye between two opinions ? If 
Jehovah be God, follow him : but if Baal, then follow 

To understand this appeal, we must remember that " the 
mass of the people, ignorant, and strongly addicted to idol- 
atry, considered Baal as identical with Jehovah ; while the 
worshipers of Jehovah, on the other hand, maintained his 
exclusive title to divine honors. fThe controversy, therefore, 
did not consist in a direct opposition between the worship 
of Jehovah and that of Baal ; for the latter party, like the 
heathen in general, tolerated the worship of other deities, 
along with their own favorite idols;! but, as Hengstenberg 
states it, * the persecution was directed against those who, 
hke Elijah, bore powerful testimony against the union of what 
was irreconcilable, and who loudly maintained that Jehovah 
identified with Baal was no longer Jehovah. ^ The proposal 
which Elijah made from this point of view, that they should 
see whether Jehovah was God or Baal, the priests of Baal from 
their point of view understood to be, whether Jehovah-Baal 
was God, or Jehovah in perfect exclusiveness. The ques- 
tion that he put before making his proposal plainly implies 
that, in the popular opinion, these heterogeneous, religious 
elements were blended in one.' "*/ 

They at first made no answer to his pointed appeal. But 
as matters must be pushed to a decision, the prophet pro- 
poses that the whole thing should be settled by a sacrifice. 
The idolatrous prophets are to take a bullock, cut it in pieces, 
lay it on an altar, and put no fire under ; Elijah is to do the 
same ; they are to call upon Baal to consume their sacrifice ; 

* " Commentary, Critical, Exegetical, and Practical," vol. ii., p. 354. 

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92 Elijah the Prophet. 

he is to call on Jehovah to consume his ; " and the God 
which answereth by fire, let him be God." 

The point of the proposal lay in this, that fire was the ele- 
ment over which Baal was believed by his followers to have 
peculiar power. It was a bold offer, and one which, had he 
not been authorized of God, he would not have been justi- 
fied in making ; but in the estimation of the people it was 
candid, fair, and honest, and they said, " It is well spoken." 

The Baalites, we may suppose, would rather have backed 
out of it if they could have framed a feasible pretext for do- 
ing so, for they were all unprepared for an emergency like 
this. Their natural magic, their skill in sleight of hand, 
their dexterity in deceit, were useless when they were taken 
thus at unawares ; but Elijah knew what he was doing. He 
had counted on all this, and he had committed them before 
the multitude, just that they might have no opportunity to 
deceive, while at the same time they might have no good 
reason for asking delay. That nothing might be wanting 
on his side, he gives them the foremost place. They choose 
their bullock, dress it, lay it upon their altar, and wait the re- 
sult. With loud cries they call upon their God, but " there 
is no voice, neither any that regardeth." 

The noontide hour has come, yet still there is no sign ; 
and the sarcastic prophet, unable any longer to control his 
biting irony, says to them, " Cry aloud : for he is a God ; ei- 
ther he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or 
peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked." Stung by 
his words, they leap in frantic devotion upon the altar, they 
cut themselves with knives and lancets till the blood gushed 
out upon them ;* and so they carry on until the time of the 
evening sacrifice, with no result. 

* In his recent interesting and valuable book on ** Bible Lan^s," Dr. 
Van-Lennep has the following passage illustrating the self-torture of the 

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The Conflict on Carmel. 


Most evidently, therefore, they have failed ; but may it not 
be the same with Eh'jah, too? It is now his time. Let us 
see how he rises to the great occasion. Calling the people 
to come near unto him, he repairs an ancient altar to Jeho- 
vah, setting up twelve stones (for in such a solemn time he 
will not forget the essential unity of all the tribes), he digs a 
trench about it, puts the wood in order (mark, in order, fo'r 
he is serving God, and he will do it right), he cuts the bull- 
ock in pieces, and lays them upon the wood ; then three 
times he causes them to pour four barrels of water on the 
sacrifice, that it might be evident that there was no attempt 
to deceive ; and when the time of the evening sacrifice is 
fully come, he bends himself in prayer. 

And what a prayer he offers ! brief, pointed, earnest, and 
believing, concentrating into few words the whole fire and 
fervor of his heart : " Jehovah, God of Abraham, Isaac, and 
of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Is- 
rael, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all 
these things at ihy word. Hear me, O Jehovah, hear me, 
that his people may know that thou art the Jehovah God, 
and that thou hast turned their heart back again." 

The train had been fully laid ; every other preparation had^ 
been made ; it needed only that it should thus be connect- 

Baalitish priests : " Our modern dervishes indulge in these practices only 
on special occasions, as, for instance, when a procession is organized and 
proceeds to the suburbs of a town to pray for rain, or for deliverance 
from some public calamity. They then exhibit some of their fanatical 
performances, calling upon God, and cutting themselves with knives and 
swords so that the blood runs, or piercing their almost naked bodies 
with wooden or iron spikes, from which they hang small mirrors. They 
sometimes become so exhausted with pain and loss of blood as to faint 
away, so that they have to be borne oft" The same author gives two 
drawings taken from life, which enable us to form some idea of the revolt- 
ing appearance of the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel. See ** Bible 
Lands," by Henry J. Van-Lennep, D.D., page 767. 

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94 Elijah the Prophet. 

ed with Jehovah, and in a moment the fire descended, and 
"consumed the burnt-sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, 
and the dust, and Ucked up the water that was in the 

Overawed by this manifestation of God's nearness to 
them, the multitudes fell on their faces and engaged for a 
brief space in silent homage ; then, rising to their feet, they 
shouted again and again, " Jehovah, he is the God ; Jeho- 
vah, he is the God." Meanwhile, consternation sits upon the 
countenances of the priests of Baal, and with bitter mortifi- 
cation in their hearts and fierce maledictions on their lips, 
they are led down to the river and slain with the sword. 

While Ahab is keeping the sacrificial feast, the prophet is 
communing with God, and earnestly praying for rain ; nor 
does he leave off until, after having been sent seven times, 
his servant came to tell him that a little cloud no bigger 
than a man's hand is rising out of the sea — the prelude of 
the coming answer to his cry. Thereafter he sent a Mes- 
sage to Ahab to make haste and prepare his chariot, so that 
the rain might not retard his progress ; and he himself, hav- 
ing tightened his girdle, and gathered his flowing mantle 
round his loins, ran on before the royal chariot, through the 
pelting torrent, to the palace gate. So ended this memora- 
ble day in the annals of Israel and in the history of man. 

And now for the practical bearing of all this on us. 
Here, first, is brought before us the grand question which 
faces every man: "Who is your God — Baal, or Jehovah ? 
sin, or the Holy One? self, or God? mammon, or Christ?" 
This is the question which each one of us has to settle for 
himself. It is needless to disguise the matter, or to shut our 
eyes to it, or to attempt to ignore it. This is the question 
which every man finds confronting him when he awakes to 
moral consciousness and responsibility, and which every day 
and every action calls upon him to solve. How have you 

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The Conflict on Carmel. 95 

solved it ? I say, how have you solved it ? for we have all 
given some answer to it already. Some have chosen to wor- 
ship wealth, and, in their homage to that, every thing else is 
neglected, or thought of only as it has a tendency to heap up 
gold. Some have chosen fame, and, at the sacrifice of ease 
and comfort, yea, by the most unscrupulous means, they seek 
to rise, and make for themselves a name among men. Some 
have said, "Intellect, be thou my God 1" and they prostrate 
themselves before originality, so called, leaving the pillar of 
cloud and fire in revelation for the speculations of some 
would-be philosopher. 

Others have found their God in sin, and, as their worship 
of it, have wallowed in the mire of sensuality and corruption. 
These be our modern Baal priests, albeit they wear no sa- 
cred vestments, nor bow the knee to any fairly fashioned im- 
age. Oh for another Elijah to summon them to another 
Carmel, that they may discover how miserably their gods 
will fail them in their hour of need ! 

But there are others who have chosen Jehovah as their 
God, and who, through good report and through evil report, 
have endeavored to preserve their allegiance unto him. 
Sometimes, indeed, they have been afraid to face the opposi- 
tion of the great ones of the people, yet they have never 
bowed the knee before the popular Baal ; and if they have 
erred at all, it has been by their silence, when they ought to 
. have spoken out for Christ. Let them also come to Carmel, 
and see how, "when a man*s ways please the Lord, he 
maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." Let 
them learn "to be strong, and play the man for God," as- 
sured that he will not forsake those that put their trust in 

Others there are who, in fluctuating feeble -mindedness, 
endeavor to combine the services of Baal and Jehovah. 
When they are in one set of circumstances, as on the Lord's 

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96 Elijah the Prophet. 

day, and in the church, they are for Jehovah. When they 
are in another set of circumstances, as on week-days, and in 
the transaction of their common business, they are for Baal, 
in one or other of his many forms. Yet how foolish, how 
weak, how vain, is an attempt like that ! You might as well 
try to combine the eternal snow of the poles with the heat 
of the tropics, or to bring the East and the West together, or * 
to make the darkness of midnight blend with the brightness 
of noonday, or to fill up that yawning chasm of infinite depth 
which for ever separates heaven from hell, as to try to weld 
together two such services as these. Nay, more, let all men 
know that even the attempt to combine the two is, after all, 
only serving Baal, and that in the meanest and most con- 
temptible fashion. Jehovah, looking upon such a one, says, 
" I would thou wert cold or hot ;" and Satan, beholding him, 
laughs at his simplicity, and inwardly chuckles at his own 
dexterity in leading his victim to destruction, by flattering 
him all the time that he is on the way to heaven. 

If there be any such here, let me raise for them the old 
shout that woke the Carmel echoes : " How long leap ye be- 
tween two opinions, as a bird leaps ever from twig to twig ? 
If Jehovah be God, folio v/ him : but if Baal, then follow him. 
No man can serve two masters. Ye can not serve God and 
mammon. Choose ye this day whom ye will serve !" And, 
after what you have heard of his glory, who among you will 
refuse to say, " I will serve Jehovah ?" 

But we have here, secondly, the manner in which Jeho- 
vah manifested his claim to the sole allegiance of men. It 
was by accepted sacrifice. No thoughtful person can read 
this history without having vividly suggested to him a nobler 
Sacrifice, by a nobler Prophet. From the days of Cain and 
Abel downward, God seems to have challenged men to de- 
cide between the true religion and the false by means of sac- 
rifice ; and these priests and prophets of Baal, waiting all 

Digitized by 


The Conflict on Carmel. 97 

the day long, and crying, and cutting themselves with knives, 
are but the representatives of universal heathendom, vainly 
seeking, by sacrifices and penances, to propitiate their di- 

Jehovah, in the history of the human race, like his servant 
here on this memorable day, allowed men to make their trial 
first. " But after that in the wisdom of God the world by 
wisdom knew not God, it pleased .God, by the preaching of 
foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe."* When 
the fullness of the time was come, and the hour of the world's 
evening sacrifice had struck, " he sent forth his Son, made of 
a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were un- 
der the law, that we might all receive the adoption of sons ;"t 
and he laid himself upon the altar in the room of sinners, 
the Eternal Father manifesting, by his resurrection from the 
dead, his acceptance of the offering which he made on men's 
behalf, even as here he showed his favor in the descending 

What need we, therefore, any further controversy on this 
great matter? Is not the resurrection of Christ from the 
dead the best attested fact in human history ? And in the 
light of that fact, is not the death of Christ a sufficient atone- 
ment for human sin ? Why need you bear the burden of 
your sin longer ? See, it was already in the load which Je- 
sus " bore up to the *cross, and left nailed to the accursed 
tree. Why need you seek by sufferings, or obedience to 
make amends for your iniquities, when he has borne your 
griefs and carried your sorrows ?" 

Here is the true, the only sacrifice for sin. It has been 
accepted by God, it needs only to be believingly accepted 
by you — as offered on your behalf; and then the Baalism 
of your hearts will be slain as effectively by Jesus' love, as 

. * I Cor. i., 21. t Gal. iv., 4, 5. 

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98 Elijah the Prophet. 

the priests were slaughtered here by Elijah^s sword. Ah I 
if you will only learn the real meaning of the cross of Christ, 
and accept him as your Redeemer, there will be no longer 
any question in your hearts as to the service of Jehovah. 
You will not be able to keep from serving him, for the im- 
pulse of your souls will be to say that you are not your own, 
but "bought with a price," and therefore bound to "glorify 
him in your bodies and your spirits, which are his." 

From Carmel, then, I lead you to Calvary, that in the sac- 
rifice offered thereon by Jesus Christ for the sins of men 
you may see the atonement for your sins ; and that in the 
empty sepulchre of Joseph you may see the pledge of your 
resurrection to newness of life with Christ, and, at the last, 
to glorified humanity with himself. Oh, if, as he looked upon 
the meek majesty of the Holy Sufferer, the Roman centuri- 
on was constrained to say, " Truly this was the Son of God ;" 
if, as the doubting apostle beheld the print of the nails in' 
his hands, and the mark of the spear-gash in his side, he ex- 
claimed, in the startled ejaculation of adoring faith, " My 
Lord and my God," surely, as we contemplate the whole 
significance of that death upon the cross, and that resurrec- 
tion from the grave, we ought to cry, Jehovah-Jesus, he is the 
God ! Jehovah-Jesus, he is the God ! Him will we serve, 
and his voice will we obey. 

Finally, let us observe, that the question as to who our 
God shall be is one of immediate urgency. The appeal is, 
"How long halt ye between two opinions?" Undecided 
hearer, what are you waiting for ? Are you wishing better 
evidence than that which has been furnished you? Then 
you will never receive any stronger testimony than that 
which was given here, or on Calvary and in the garden ; and 
if you reject that, we must say regarding you, neither will 
you be persuaded if one came unto you directly from the 
grave. If you think that insufficient, then there must be 

Digitized by 


The Conflict on Carmel. 99 

some other reason than a lack of evidence that leads you to 
be undecided. The cause may be a moral one, and there 
may be some secret sin holding you fast in the meshes of its 
invisible threads, or some hidden lust to which you are wed- 
ded, or some unseen idol that you are really worshiping ; 
and in that case you have already, for all your apparent inde- 
cision, determined to reject God ; that is, you have, for the 
gratification of your lusts, made up your minds to act as if it 
were a settled thing that the Bible is a lie, and that God is 

Or perhaps the cause may be intellectual, and you may 
be insisting on a kind of proof which can not be furnished 
to you on any moral question. The truth of the Bible can 
not be established by a demonstration like that by which 
you reach a conclusion in a mathematical problem. And to 
insist upon evidence of such a sort in its behalf betrays on 
your part a mental defect or an intellectual mistake. You 
have to be content here with moral certainty ; you have to 
accept here, not one abstract demonstration, but the sum to- 
^al of a great variety of separate testimonies, all of them con- 
verging to one point, and making, by their cumulative force, 
an incontrovertible impression on the candid mind. 

But there is a third possibility that presents itself. Per- 
haps you are waiting, that it may be easier for you to declare 
yourself. That is, you will tarry till you discover which is 
the popular side, and to that you will adhere. But how un- 
manly is a course like that ! What signifies it whether the 
majority be with you or not ; if only you are right, you are 
always in the majority, for you have God on your side. 
Shame on you to wait for personal considerations when truth 
and right and God are concerned ! 

There is a battle raging on the earth between good and 
evil, between God and Satan, between Christ and antichrist ; 
and it is cowardly in the extreme for you to linger on the 

Digitized by 


loo Elijah the Prophet. 

outskirts of the field, shrouded in the smoke that is issuing 
fi-om the conflict, and waiting only till victory declares itself, 
that then you may come down and claim the honors of a 
triumph which you did nothing to win. 

Come fortli, and quit yourselves like men in this great 
fight. Take the one side or the other ; and, oh, take the side 
of the Lord Jesus Christ ! Fight the good fight of faith, and 
so lay hold on eternal life. The matter is urgent. Make 
haste ; for, if you delay much longer, death may decide it for 
you, and fix you everlastingly among the foes of God. 

Wavering sinner, you are, so to say, in iht twilight ; but it 
rests with you to determine whether it shall be the twilight 
of the morning, brightening into the full splendor of heav- 
en's own eternal noonday, or that of the evening, darkening 
down into the blackness of helFs own endless night. To 
the one or to the other it must come at last. Halt no 
longer, therefore, but decide for God through Jesus Christ 
our Lord ; and by the help of his Holy Spirit, slay every 
Baalitish principle within you. 

** Then bright as morning shall come forth 
In peace and joy thy da)rs ; 
And glory from the Lord above 
Shall shine on all thy ways." 

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I Kings xviii., 40-46. 

THE slaughter of the prophets of Baal, at the command 
of Elijah, immediately after his sacrifice on Mount Car- 
mel had been consumed by fire from heaven, has been by 
many regarded as a high-handed proceeding, and the ene- 
mies of the Bible have not hesitated to cry out against it as 
both immoral and inhuman. 

In answer to all such allegations, however, it might be 
enough to say that the destruction of the idolatrous prophets 
must be taken in connection with the whole events of the 
day. We are not warranted to view it by itself alone, but 
we must look upon it as the sequel of the miraculous accept- 
ance of Elijah^s sacrifice by fire ; which not only proved that 
Jehovah was God, but also that Elijah was his duly accred- 
ited servant. Hence the order of Elijah was virtually the 
command of God, who has the right to take away the lives 
which men by their sins have forfeited, whensoever and how- 
soever he pleases. If the reality of the miracle be dis- 
proved, then we may charge Elijah with cruelty, though in 
that case it would be hard to see how he, acting alone, 
could so move the people as to persuade them to carry out 
his instructions. If, on the other hand, the reality of the 
miracle be granted, we must hold that Elijah in issuing his 
command was acting in the name and by the authority of 

But this, in the estimation of some tender and sensitive 

Digitized by 


102 Elijah the Prophet. 

spirits, may only seem to aggravate the difficulty. They 
could conceive of Elijah, a man of like passions with other 
men, acting after the fashion here described, for no prophet 
was infallible in his character ; but they find it hard to be- 
lieve that God, who is, according to the apostle John, love 
itself, should countenance and encourage, far less command, 
such a proceeding as that which is here described. 

But, in reply to all this, we would remind objectors that 
love is by no means inconsistent with the execution of a 
penalty on those who have violated a righteous law. Love 
to the criminal in the remission of his sentence is cruelty 
and injustice to the nation. To pardon a thief, for example, 
and let him loose upon society to renew his dishonesty, 
might be regarded by some as kindness to him, but it is the 
greatest unkindness to the community. 

Now, in the nation of Israel, God was the real king, and 
each occupant of the throne on earth was required to rule 
in harmony with k certain written code of laws. These 
laws are contained in the Books of Moses, and among them 
are the most stringent statutes against idolatry. That among 
the Israelites was not merely an immoral thing, as it is and 
must be everywhere, but it was also a crime ; that is, an of- 
fense against the law of the nation, and a dishonor to him 
*who was its real king. These prophets of Baal, therefore, 
by introducing a new divinity into the land, were guilty not 
only of sin against the God of heaven, but also of high trea- 
son, and so as traitors they had forfeited their- lives. 

Besides, the idolatry which they were mainly instrumental 
in producing brought as its punishment temporal calamities 
upon the people ; and as these could be removed only by 
the abolition of the idolatry, love to the nation as a whole 
demanded that they should be destroyed. 

This execution must be regarded as having occurred un- 
der a theocracy ; and \Yhen we so view it, we see at once 

Digitized by 


Prayer and its Answer. 103 

how it was perfectly justifiable in such circumstances, while 
it would be utterly unjustifiable in the times in which we 
live. Idolatry was then a crime as well as a sin. Now, it is 
a sin only, and as such, it is not within the province of any 
government to deal with it ; but the person who is guilty of 
it must be held as answerable to God alone. . 

Nor has any ruler in the Christian church the right to 
imitate Elijah here. He was a prophet of the old cove- 
nant, and as such .was bound to act in accordance with the 
laws of Moses. The office-bearer in the church is a ruler, 
under the new covenant, of a spiritual society, and is under 
obligations to rule only in accordance with the precepts of 
Christ and the principles laid down by his apostles. Now, 
among these there is no warrant for the use of the sword. 
The power which the Christian • office-bearer .wields is that 
of truth, and if the truth which he proclaims be by men re- 
jected, they must be left to be dealt with by God himself 
It is important thus to distinguish between thijpgs that differ, 
and to show how a vindication of Elijah here does not in- 
volve the approval of persecution now for religious or irre- 
ligious belief 

After this terrible sentence had been executed in the val- 
ley beside the river Kishon, Elijah said unto Ahab, "Get 
thee up ; eat and drink, for there is a sound of abundance 
of rain ;" and the king, with the bitterness of defeat with- 
in his heart, re -ascended the hill, and sat down to the 
feast which was always associated with the offering of sacri- 

While he and his courtiers were thus engaged, Elijah, 
with his servant, who now for the first time appears in the 
narrative, went still farther up the mountain. Taking his 
station in a fit place of retreat, the prophet gave himself to 
pray, and sent his servant to the summit, to watch the result, 
away out on the Mediterranean Sea. 

Digitized by 


104 Elijah the Prophet. 

Now, concerning this supplication of Elijah's a few things 
need to be said. 

In the first place, it is somewhat remarkable that he oflfer- 
ed prayer at all. He had said to Ahab that there was a 
sound of abundance of rain ; he had also affirmed, three 
years and a half before, that the rain would come at his own 
word. What need, then, one is inclined to ask, for prayer at 
all? Might he not have spoken the word just at the mo- 
ment? But no! Elijah knew, what it behooves us also to 
remember, that the fulfillment of God's promises comes in 
the way of answers to prayer. He knew that to every pre- 
diction of blessing the condition is annexed, " For this will I 
be inquired of to do it for you ;" and so he gave himself to 
prayer. He believed that to be a law of God's moral gov- 
ernment, as imperative and unchanging as any of those in 
the physical universe, of which, in these days, so much is 
said ; and therefore he set himself to earnest supplication. 

Again, it is noteworthy that Elijah withdrew from all soci- 
ety when he prayed. He went up to be alone ; and he did 
so in order that the full strength of his fervent soul might be 
given to the work in which he was engaging. Yes, I 'say the 
7vork; for Elijah's prayer was no mere fonn, neither was it 
the calm musing of a meditative spirit ; but it was the ear- 
nest wrestling of one whose intellect, and heart, and will, and 
conscience were all vigorously exercised for the production 
of the result at which he aimed. 

When, on one occasion, the Lord Jesus was praying, we 
are informed that, when he ceased, his disciples came unto 
him, and requested to be taught to pray. Now, the word 
there rendered " ceased " literally means when he " rested," 
implying that prayer with Christ, as with Elijah, was a work 
in which the whole soul was engaged. It was a saying of 
Bishop Hamilton, of Salisbury, and is quoted by Canon Lid- 
don, that "no man was likely to do much good in prayer 

Digitized by 


Prayer and its Answer. 105 

who did not begin by looking upon it in the light of a work 
to be prepared for and persevered in with all the earnest- 
ness which we bring to bear upon subjects which are, in our 
opinion, at once most interesting and most necessary."* Ah, 
how far from this is it too frequently with us ! We are list- 
less, indifferent, formal, cold. So far from having our whole 
souls in active exertion, we are too frequently utterly unin- 
terested in our own devotions, using expressions by rote, and 
going over petitions as mechanically as the little figures in a 
Swiss clock go through their hourly exercises. Let us, Eli- 
jah-like, concentrate ourselves on the great work of suppli- 
cation ; and soon we, too, shall have answers such as those 
which he enjoyed. 

Further, we are impressed with the fact that Elijah here 
had a definite object in view when he prayed. Too often 
even professing Christians go to their knees with no distinct 
purpose shaped within their souls. They have been taught 
to believe that it is their duty to pray, and so they go into 
their closets to perform a duty. They use certain stereo- 
typed phrases, which have come down, as it were, by tradi- 
tion from the fathers, and form part of all orthodox prayers ; 
they ask for things which they ought to desire, rather than 
for those which they really at the moment wish ; and thus 
the exercises which were meant to be a joy and refreshment 
to the spirit become a burden and a weariness. Let us see 
to it, therefore, that we pause and consider what we are go- 
ing to ask before we begin to pray. 

It would be a good thing, indeed, as helping to produce 
this concentration of heart, if we were to write distinctly 
down before our own eyes that which it was our intention 
to ask from God. Elijah would not here have been taken 
aback if he had been asked, " What did you request from 

* " Some Elements of Religious Thought," p. 172. 


Digitized by 


io6 Elijah the Prophet. 

God ?*' His whole soul was bent on securing rain. He had 
done all he could in the way of purging the land from idol- 
atry ; and he now turned to God to remove the curse which 
for idolatry was resting on the land. He knew what he 
wanted. Yet what confusion would often cover us, if, after 
we have risen from our knees, some one were to ask us, 
" What have you been praying for ?" 

Look at the prayer offered by Elijah before the fire came 
down and consumed the sacrifice ; look at the prayers offer- 
ed by Moses, by Daniel, by Nehemiah, and others, as they 
have been preserved in this book, and see how definite they 
were. They went to the object which the suppliants had in 
view as straight as an arrow to its mark ; and we shall never 
pray aright until we learn this definiteness. 

If one, in his daily business, should go to a fellow-mer- 
chant, and present a request with the same circumlocution 
which is too often used in prayer, or if he should indulge in 
the same pointless generalities which are so common in our 
petitions, he would be laughed to scorn, and would be count- 
ed any thing but earnest. Brethren, let us reform this alto- 
gether, and be as natural and direct in our requests to God 
as our children are in their applications to us. 

Notice, again, how Elijah expected an answer to his prayer. 
He sent his servant to the summit to look out for its appear- 
ance. He regarded it as a certainty that the answer would 
come ; and just as when you have written to a dear friend, 
asking advice on some important matter, it never occurs to 
you to doubt that he will answer, and you watch for the post- 
man every morning to see whether the reply has come, so it 
never entered into Elijah^s mind to doubt that his prayer 
would be granted. The strangest of all things to him would 
have been that his prayer should be unanswered. So he set 
a watch for the coming of the answer. 

Now, how different all this is from our procedure, I need 

Digitized by 


Prayer and its Answer. 107 

hardly stay to show. Is it not true that we speak of answers 
to prayer as almost unwonted things ? When one of our own 
prayers is answered, we can not think enough of it ; and this 
not so much because of God's kindness in giving it — ^for that 
would be well enough — as because of its unusualness in our 
experience. The wonder is to us that our prayer has been 
answered at all. 

Take up a book of religious anecdotes, and you will prob- 
ably see a section headed thus : " Remarkable Answers to 
Prayer;" but what unbelief is there in the very title ! Why, 
that real prayer should be answered by God for Jesus* sake 
is not a remarkable thing ; it is one of the laws of his spir- 
itual government that such prayer should be answered, and 
the wonderful thing would be if, after the promises he has 
made, he were to ignore our petitions. Is it, after all, so re- 
markable a thing that God should keep his promise ? If he 
were a frail, erring man, who had often broken his word, and 
had obtained the reputation of being untruthful, it might be 
something astonishing if, on one or two occasions, he should 
keep his promise. But he is the faithful GLod, and the won- 
der is that we should be surprised at any manifestation of 
his faithfulness. 

Brethren, there is an immense amount of unbelief under- 
lying the common modes of speech even of professing Chris- 
tians on this subject. It is not singular that God should 
hear prayer ; but, oh ! it is singular that, with so many of 
his promises plainly given us in his Word, and with the man- 
ifestation of his love to us in the cross of his Son, before our 
eyes, we should not calculate upon his answering our prayers 
just as we do upon the response of a beloved friend to the 
earnest letter which we have sent him for sympathy and ad- 

Elijah would have been surprised if God had not answer- 
ed him ; we, alas ! in our unbelief, are surprised when he 

Digitized by 


io8 Elijah the Prophet. 

does answer us ! Let us have done with all this ; and when 
we direct our prayer unto God, let us look up, expecting 
some result. 

I remark, again, that Elijah- was importunate in his prayer. 
Six times the servant whom he had stationed on the hill-top 
returned with the reply, "There is nothing;" but that did 
not dishearten the prophet. He kept on at his prayer ; he 
knocked again and again, until the response was given. 

Nor is this a solitary instance of believing importunity 
in petition. Jesus, in Gethsemane, threw himself three times 
upon the earth praying the same words. Paul besought the 
Lord thrice that his thorn in the flesh might be removed. 
The Syrophenician woman clung to Christ, and would not 
let him go until the blessing came. From these cases let 
us learn not to be disappointed if at first no answer comes. 
Though it tarry, wait for it ; it will surely come — it will not 
tarry ; " and of this let us be sure, that no true prayer is ever 
lost." Either in spirit or in letter, it will be surely answered. 
The God of heaven has promised to hear his children's cry, 
and his throne shall totter, and himself cease to be the ruler 
of the world, sooner than his word shall be falsified or his 
pledge broken. 

Finally, here, Elijah recognized the answer when it came, 
for when the seventh time his servant came, saying, " Behold, 
there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand," 
he saw in this the response to his prayer, and sent a message 
to Ahab to hasten his departure, lest the rain should hinder 
his return to his palace. 

Some have taken this as an illustration of the gradual 
manner in which God often answers his people's prayers, 
and sends his blessings ; but I confess that, to me, there is 
nothing that suggests the gradual in the description that is 
here given, for the fact that the king was bid to make haste 
shows rather that the storm came on at once in all its force. 

Digitized by 


Prayer and its Answer. 109 

But while I do not see that idea in the narrative before 
me, I think we have here an indication of the fact that God 
answers his people's prayers through the ordinary operations 
of the laws of nature. There was nothing in the coming of 
this storm different from the rising of those which are com- 
mon in the eastern portion of the Mediterranean. That this 
is the case is clear from the statements ,raade by modern 
voyagers in the Levant. 

" Of several instances which occur to us," says Dr. Kitto,* 
"the most graphic is that given by Mr. Emerson, in his 'Let- 
ters from the -^gean.' He is at sea in a Greek vessel in 
the Levant. One morning, which had opened clear and 
beautiful, it was announced that a squall might be expected. 
No sign recognizable by European landsmen appeared ; but 
on attention being properly directed, *a little black cloud 
was seen on the verge of the horizon toward the south, which 
was every Instant spreading rapidly over the face of the sky, 
and drawing nearer to the vessel. Order was immediately 
given to strike sail, and to prepare the vessel for scudding 
before the hurricane. But scarcely an instant had elapsed 
ere. the squall was upon us, and all grew black around; the 
wind came swishing and crisping over the water, and in a 
moment the ship was running, almost gunwale down, while 
the rain was dashing in torrents on the decks.' Mr. Emer- 
son adds that it is mainly the dread of such sudden bour- 
rasques that compels almost every vessel in the Levant to 
shorten sail at the close of day, since it would be next to 
impossible during the night to discern the cloud which an- 
nounces the approach of the tempest in time to prepare for 
its reception, and to a ship with all her canvas spread the 
effect might be terrific." 

Thus, then, Elijah's prayer was answered through the op- 

* " Daily Bible Illustrations," vol. iv., p. 272. 

Digitized by 


no Elijah THE Prophet. 

eration of God's ordinary laws for the regulation of the forces 
of nature ; and so we have in this a triumphant reply to 
those who assert that the hearing of prayer by God must in- 
volve an interference with the laws of nature which would 
amount to a miracle. For there is no word here of miracle ; 
and the storm came that evening precisely as storms come 
in that region yet. Hence we are shut up to the inference 
that this prayer was answered through God's usual channels 
of operation, and we must conclude that what men call phys- 
ical laws have been arranged by God with the view of his 
carrying on through them the course of his providence, and 
answering by them the prayers of his people. How this has 
been accomplished, I can not tell ; that it is the case, I am 
forced to conclude, not only from this narrative, but also 
from many others in this sacred Book. 

But some one may say : " Not so fast ! If this storm came 
only as other storms come, through the operation of natural 
laws, how can you hold that Elijah's prayer was answered by 
its coming ? May there not be here only a coincidence ?" 

Now, to this I reply that if we had nothing more before us 
than the fact that a man prayed for rain, and the other fact 
that the rain came just after he had prayed, we might say 
that there was only a coincidence ; but we have more than 
these two things to contemplate. We have to take in, be- 
sides, the truth that God has promised to hear prayer, and the 
fact that Elijah offered his prayer in the faith of that prom- 
ise j and when we include these, it is impossible any longer 
to speak of coincidence. . 

A friend promises to another that, if he will let him know 
when he is in need, he will be always ready to help him. 
The hour of need comes. He wTites for help, and by the 
first post thereafter, his friend, availing himself of the ordi- 
nary channels of communication, sends a Jetter inclosing 
mone3^ Is this any the less an answer to prayer because 

Digitized by 


Prayer and its Answer. m 

the benevolent man used the regular means of transmitting 
his gift, and did not send a special messenger with it by an 
unusual route ? or does the recipient in such a case speak 
of mere coincidence? No; but he sees the fulfillment of a 
promise, and rejoices in the new assurance which he has re- 
ceived of the faithfulness of his friend. Just so here. We 
must have regard to the promise of God, and the suppli- 
ant's faith in it, as well as to the coming of that which the 
suppliant prays for ; and when we bring these in, it is the 
merest absurdity to speak of a coincidence. 

I know that just now it is the fashion, in certain scientific 
quarters, to deny the possibility of pra)^ers being ever an- 
swered, and to deride the very offering of it ; but these phi- 
losophers forget, on the one hand, the natural impulse of the 
burdened heart to pray, and, on the other, the promise which 
God has given to answer prayer. "There are more things in 
heaven and earth" than they have dreamed of, or can under- 
stand. When God created the world, he certainly did not 
shut himself out of it ; and he who gave the universe its laws 
can surely so employ them as to answer the entreaties of his 
children through them. To suppose the contrary is to de- 
grade the Almighty below the level of a common artificer, 
and to make him the slave, and not the master, of the ele- 
ments of nature. 

Some time ago, being at Binghamton, in this State, I 
went to see the machinery wherewith that city is supplied 
with water. In a small house on the bank of the Susque- 
hanna, there is an engine, which goes night and day, pump- 
ing water into the mains. The demand for water acts as a 
governor on the engine, and regulates its motion, so that the 
more water is drawn off, the faster the engine goes. Then, 
when a fire occurs, an alarm-bell is rung, on hearing which 
the engineer gears on some extra machinery, which causes 
the engine to move more rapidly, and charges the ordinary 

Digitized by 


112 Elijah the Prophet. 

mains to their fullest capacity, so that they can send water 
through the hose to the top of the highest building in the 
place. Now, if men can thus construct an engine whereby, 
through ordinary and already existing channels, an emergen- 
cy of prayer may be met, why can not God do the same in 
this machine which we call the universe ? As we understand 
the matter, it is thus he does proceed. He uses his natural 
laws for the carrying forward of his purposes in grace, and 
for the help of his believing children ; and, as Isaac Taylor 
has suggestively said, " the greatest miracle of God's provi- 
dence is that it is carried on without miracle," while yet it 
makes provision for the answering of prayer, and for the ac- 
complishment of the great purpose of the Divine Mind. 

But I must hasten on to the conclusion of the narrative. 
As the storm began, Ahab mounted his chariot and rode on 
toward Jezreel, while Elijah, under a divine impulse, girded 
his loins and ran before him to the gate of the palace. I 
have seen no explanation of this apparently strange proced-* 
ure at all equal to that given by Dr. Thomson in " The Land 
and the Book ;" and as it would only mar the beauty of his 
statement if I were to attempt either to paraphrase or to 
abridge it, I shall content myself with simply reproducing 
his words : 

" This," says that excellent writer, " has always seemed to 
me most extraordinary conduct for a man of Elijah's age, 
character, and office. And yet, when rightly understood, it 
was beautiful and full of important instruction. Elijah, as 
God's minister, had overwhelmed the king with shame and 
confusion in the presence of his subjects. The natural tend- 
ency of this would be to lower him in their eyes, and lessen 
their respect for his authority. It was not the intention, how- 
ever, to weaken the government, nor to encourage rebellion. 
The prophet was, therefore, divinely directed to give a testi- 
mony of respect and honor to the king as public and strik- 

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Prayer and its Answer. 113 

ing as from necessity 'had been the opposition and rebuke to 
his idolatry. The mode of doing honor to Ahab by running 
before his chariot was in accordance with the customs of the 
East even to this day. I was reminded of this incident more 
than twenty years ago, at Jaffa, when Mohammed All came 
to that city with a large army to quell the rebellion of Pal- 
estine. The camp was on the sand-hills south of the city, 
while Mohammed Ali stopped inside the walls. The officers 
were constantly coming and going, preceded by runners, who 
always kept just ahead of the horses, no matter how furious- 
ly they were ridden ; and in order to run with the greater 
ease, they not only girded their loins very tightly, but also 
tucked up their loose garments under the girdle, lest they 
should be incommoded by them. Thus, no doubt, did Eli- 
jah. The distance from the base of Carmel across the plain 
to Jezreel is not less than twelve miles ; and the race was 
probably accomplished in two hours, in the face of a tremen- 
dous storm of rain and wind. It was necessary that the 
hand of the Lord should be upon the prophet, or he would 
not have been able to achieve it."* 

We have, all through this evening's lecture, set ourselves 
to give a practical direction to the example of the prophet, 
and so we may be the more readily excused if we shall, for 
once, finish with a doctrinal deduction. In our last dis- 
course we spoke of the sacrifice on Mount Carmel as having 
been, in some sort, typical of the greater offering by a great- 
er prophet on Calvary ; and it surely can not be unnatural 
if we connect the prayer of Elijah, with its answer in the 
wind and rain, with the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the 
infant Church on Pentecost, in answer to the continuous 
supplications of the first disciples. 

The sacrifice of Christ, valuable as it was, was not all that 

* " The Land and the Cook," English edition, p. 485. 

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114 Elijah the Prophet. 

was needed for the world's salvation. The descent of the 
Spirit was just as needful as the offering of himself upon the 
cross by Jesus. The one, without the other, would have been 
of no avail. By the union of both, the salvation of the be- 
lieving soul is effected. The cross was the magnet, but the 
Spirit is the hand that holds that magnet, and draws men's 
souls to God. The cross is the great instrumentality by 
which the soul is renewed and sanctified and made meet for 
heaven ; but the Spirit is the agent who makes that instru- 
mentality effectual. Just as in the present instance, though 
Elijah had overcome the idolaters in securing the acceptance 
of his sacrifice, the land would still have remained parched 
and barren had there been no rain ; so, even after the death 
of Christ on Calvary, and his resurrection from the tomb of 
Joseph, the world would have remained to a large extent un- 
blessed had there been no succeeding Pentecost. 

Thus we may see how much we owe to these hundred and 
twenty suppliants in the upper room who continued instant 
in prayer, until, with the sound as of a tempest, the Spirit of 
fire descended on them, to purify and consecrate them for 
the Master's work, and to clothe them with power from on 
high for its prosecution. 

Nor is this true only in regard of Christ's sacrifice as re- 
lated to Pentecost. It is as true yet of the preaching of 
Christ crucified and its relation to the conversion of men. 
It is not enough that we have a faithful minister who sets 
forth before the eyes of his hearers Jesus Christ, evidently 
crucified for them. That of itself will not convert them, and 
cause the Verdure of the new life to spring up within their 
souls. The heavenly rain of the Spirit is required for that 
as well as the preaching of the Cross. 

Let us never forget this. Let the minister retire from his 
pulpit as Elijah went here to his closet, and let the hearers 
do the same ; let them together plead that God would send 

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Prayer and its Answer. 115 

down his Spirit in rich effusion ; let them be earnest, believ- 
ing, and importunate in their prayers ; and then there will be 
"a sound of abundance of rain." Souls will be converted, the 
church will be revived, the neighborhood will be blessed, and 
anew the old oracles will be fulfilled. " The wilderness and 
the solitary place shall be glad for them ; the desert shall re- 
joice, and blossom as the rose." " He shall come unto us as 
the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth." " He 
shall come down like rain upon the mown grass, and as show- 
ers that water the earth." To your knees, then, my hearers, 
to your knees ! Go, beseech God to pour out his Spirit upon 
us all ; and who can tell but that from this evening service 
there shall commence a blessing which shall be like a new 
Pentecost to all our souls, and the effects of which shall radi- 
ate from us until all around are made to own the reality and 
to feel the power of the Redeemer's grace ? Would to God 
that it might be so, indeed ! 

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I Kings xix., 1-18. 

WHEN Ahab returned to Jezreel, and reported to Jez- 
ebel the proceedings on Mount Carmel, with their 
disastrous issue for the priests of Baal, her rage knew no 
bounds. She thought of Elijah as her only adversary, and, 
tracing the whole effect to some trickery or sleight of hand 
of his, she sent to him a message of revengeful import : 
" So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy 
life as the life of one of them by to-morrow about this time." 
She refused to acknowledge the sovereignty of Jehovah, even 
when proved by such convincing signs as those which Elijah 
had given, and she vainly imagined that if she could only 
destroy the prophet's life, she would also annihilate the 
cause with which he was identified. She had not been her- 
self on Carmel, a spectator of the descending fire upon Eli- 
jah's sacrifice ; and, with the true spirit of the skeptic, who 
will not believe the eyes of others, and, unless it suits his 
own purposes, will not believe his own, she would not ac- 
knowledge that any miracle had been wrought. " It was all 
a delusion. By some premonitory indications, Elijah knew 
that the drought was about to cease, and, calculating on the 
coming thunder-storm, he thought he could make the peo- 
ple believe that the wood upon his altar was kindled by fire 
from heaven, whereas it was only a flash of lightning ; and 
as for the rain coming as the result of his prayer, that was 
all a superstition — it was a mere coincidence — only that, 

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Under the Juniper-tree. 117 

and nothing more ; and when the morning dawned, she 
would turn the tables upon him, and make sure that he, at 
least, would never again interfere with Ahab's plan for the 
Baalizing of the kingdom of Israel." 

Had she been merely fighting with a man, she might have 
succeeded ; but Elijah was only the servant of Jehovah, and 
though he were removed, Jehovah would remain as omnip- 
otent as ever. This is forgotten by all persecutors of the 
faith ; and in reference to every kind of religious intoler- 
ance, the advice of Gamaliel may well be pondered by the 
governments that practice it : " Refrain from these men, and 
let them alone : for if this counsel or this work be of men, 
it will come to naught : but if it be of God, ye can not over- 
throw itj lest haply ye be found even to fight against 

When Elijah heard what Jezebel had said, a sudden panic 
seized him, and he arose and fled for his life, resting not un- 
til he came to Beer-sheba, the southern extremity of Judali. 
But he would not remain even in that utmost border of the 
land ; for though the good Jehoshaphat was then king at Je- 
rusalem, his son had married the daughter of Jezebel, and, in 
* his paroxysm of terror, the prophet would not stay where any 
of the kin of Ahab had any influence whatever. So, leaving 
his servant at Beer-sheba, he went a full day's journey into 
the wilderness, and flung himself at even-tide under the lee 
of a shrub, here called a juniper-tree. " It was a white-blos- 
somed broom, abundant in Spain, Barbary, Syria, and the des- 
ert of Sinai, and known in British shrubberies as the Spanish 
Broom."t Dr. Bonar, in his account of his journey through 
Sinai, describing a bush of this species, says : " It was under 
this tree that Elijah sat down to take shelter from the heat, 

* Acts v., 38, 39. 

t Fairbairn*s ** Imperial Bible Dictionary," article Jitniper-iree, 

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ii8 Elijah the Prophet. 

and more than once did we do the same ; for some of these 
shrubs are bushy and tall, perhaps eight or ten feet high. 
They formed a shadow, sometimes from the heat, sometimes 
from the wind, and sometimes from the rain, both for man 
and beast. It was about the best shadow that the desert 
could afford, save when we could get under some great rock 
or shaggy palm."* 

Under such a broom-bush, then, in his fear, his weariness, 
his self-reproach, and his despair, Elijah threw himself, and 
requested that he might die, saying, " It is enough ; now, O 
Lord, take away my life ; for I am not better than my fa- 
thers." Is this the man who had bearded Ahab in his- court, 
whose prayer had sealed and opened heaven, whose faith had 
raised the dead, and who had put to confusion the prophets 
of Baal on the brow of Carmel ? Is this he who heretofore 
has never feared the face of man ? Is this Elijah the Tish- 
bite, fleeing from death, and yet with almost maniacal incon- 
sistency supplicating for death ? Alas, it is even so ! " The 
best of men are but men at the best." Grand and noble as 
he was, he was, after all, only " a man of like passions with 
ourselves j" and in this panic-stricken paralysis of his faith 
there is as much to instruct us as in his bold denunciation ' 
of the wrong, and manly struggle for the right. It seems, 
indeed, a strange collapse ; yet I am not sure but that most 
of us will have more affinity with him as he lies here in his 
dark depression thafi as he stood that other day in his re- 
forming might, calling the thousands of Israel to decision. 
Paul, in his peculiar experiences, has taught us that when we 
are weak, then we may be strong. To-night we may learn, 
from the fugitive prophet under the juniper-tree, that where 
we are strong, there we may be weak. Let us try if we can 
in any degree account for this unusual conduct on Elijah's 

* Bonar's " Sinai," p. 196. 

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Under the Juniper-tree. 119 

part, and let us also carefully follow God's dealing with him 
in the despondency out of which his conduct grew. 

In speaking of the causes of Elijah's sudden depression, I 
would, like Robertson, of Brighton — whose sermon on this 
chapter* has well-nigh swept the whole field of thought on 
the subject, and left the merest handful to all after-gleaners 
— ^give prominence to the physical reaction which must have 
followed upon the intense excitement of the previous days. 
In our complex humanity there is a mysterious sympathy 
between the body and the spirit. When the mind is ear- 
nestly engaged, it gives, for the time, its vigor and energy 
to the. body; so that we are not surprised to hear of John 
Knox, that in his last days he had to be supported into the 
pulpit by a servant on each side of him, and behooved to 
lean upon it at his first entry ; but, as James Melville *says, 
" er he had done with his sermone, he was so active and so 
vigorous that he was lyk to ding the pulpit in blads (knock 
the pulpit to pieces), and flie out of it." But, on tlie other 
hand, when, after long-continued tension, the strain is slack- 
ened, and the bo.dy is run down, it imparts its weariness to 
the spirit. 

In the heat of a man's enthusiastic devotion to some pur- 
suit, and while the absolute necessity for exertion is upon 
him, he is not conscious of physical fatigue ; but when tlie 
work is done, and the weight of responsibility removed, both 
body and mind sink into a state of weakness which makes 
every thought of exertion a distress. In such a condition 
the slightest noise will seem to sound as with the report of 
a revolver, and every call to attention will rasp upon the 
nervous system with an agony, the intensity of which can 
be understood only by those who have felt it. The natural 
equipoise of the system has been disturbed ; and as, when 

* Robertson's " Sermons," Second Series, p. 95. 

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I20 Elijah the Prophet. 

you take a weight out of the one scale on the balance, the 
other sinks at once to a depth corresponding to the height 
to which the first rises, so when, by some anxious and har- 
assing exertion, a man has been held long on a stretch, the 
moment the work is finished there will come a rebound into 
a state of weakness which is as far below the usual condition 
of his system as his former sttength was above it. 

When a mother, or a sister, or a wife is watching by the 
bedside of a dear one, a marvelous power of endurance is 
evoked, sleep and rest seem almost unnecessary, and for the 
time the nurse is a wonder to herself and all around her. 
But when the danger is past, and the patient has recovered, 
then there is a recoil, and the effects of the overexertion of 
a few weeks tell for months, both upon the body and the 
mind. The valley is as deep as the mountain is high. The 
ebb of the tide is proportioned to its height ; and is ever 
greatest when the flood -tide has been at the spring. So 
excessive tension of our bodily system will induce as excess- 
ive relaxation, and that, in its turn, will tell upon the tone 
of the mind. This is the law of our human nature. We all 
understand it; we have all experienced it; and we must 
give Elijah here the full benefit of it. Think what he had 
gone through during these preceding few days of exciting 
toil. After his challenge to the priests of Baal, there was the 
earnestness of his prayerful preparation for the encounter ; 
then there was the long day of actual conflict on the mount- 
ain ; then his wrestling, with God for the rain ; and then his 
rapid race before Ahab's chariot all the way from Carmel 
to Jezreel. Now, all these coming one upon another must 
have worn out even so muscular a frame as Elijah's; for 
observe there was much more than mere physical toil. 

Every body knows that there is nothing so exhaustive as 
deep emotion. Now, the conflict on the mountain stirred 
the prophet's heart to its depths, and prayer like his must 

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Under the Juniper-tree. 121 

itself have been a labor of the most fatiguing kind. Hence, 
when the threat of Jezebel was repeated to him, and he saw 
no attempt made by the people to rally round him, we can 
easily understand how, in the state of prostration to which 
he was reduced, his faith failed him, and he turned and fled. 
Had he better understood the demands of his own frame 
upon him, he' might probably have struggled more manfully 
against this physical reaction ; and might have reasoned 
that Jezebel was no more dangerous to him now than she 
had been before. But, in his ignorance of the cause of his 
depression, he magnified the peril in which he stood, while 
at the same time he forgot the faithfulness of that protector 
who before had hidden him in the valley of the Cherith and 
the cottage of Zarephath. Let us learn, therefore, from his 
case not to mistake the lassitude of the body for the deser- 
tion of Jehovah. Many of our darkest hours are caused 
not so much by spiritual evils as by physical derangements. 
And not seldom we apply to God's ministers for religious 
consolation, when we should repair to our physician for med- 
ical treatment. 

But another cause of Elijah's depression is to be found in 
the fact that he had been thus far companionless. By this 
I do not mean that he had stood alone in the land, without 
the encouragement of knowing that at least seven thousand 
had been faithful to Jehovah, but rather that he had found 
no intimate human friend who could soothe him by personal 
sympathy and affection. It is no doubt true that there is a 
certain solitariness about every man, and that the greater 
the man is, the greater is his loneliness. Nor do I forget 
that when one can get access to God in prayer, the lack of 
human confidential friendship is more than compensated. 
Still, there is a craving in every heart for earthly companion- 
ship ; nay, more, there is a healing power in such fellowship 
which tends to refresh our hearts and keep us from depres- 


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122 Elijah the Prophet. 

sion. He who formed us said, " It is not good for man to 
be alone," and in the companionship of a wife — when a man 
has the wisdom to make her a companion, and not a mere 
ornamental appendix to himself— there is great moral benefit 

The beautiful myth of English history tells how Queen 
Eleanor sucked the poison out of her husband's wounds; 
and in a moral and spiritual sense this is what every true- 
hearted wife seeks to do. She takes the poison from the 
wounds which her husband receives in the daily battle of 
life. This, also, in a lower degree indeed, but yet in a very 
great degree, is what a real friend does for his friend ; and if 
Elijah here had but possessed such a companion, he might 
have been saved from his flight into the wilderness. Up till 
this time, however, his solitariness had been the great blank 
of his life. He had been a Luther without his Melancthon ; 
a Peter without his John; a Calvin without his Beza. 

It is instructive to note how, almost in all ages and lands, 
God has sent out his reformers as at first Christ sent his 
evangelists, two by two, that.the weakness of the one might, 
in some measure, be supplemented by the strength of the 
other. But Elijah had no one to consult with ; no one to 
speak to him of his nervous prostration and exaggerated 
fears ; no one to take for a moment, as it were, the lever 
of his thoughts, and switch them off upon a different track ; 
and so he ran away. Perhaps, during his past career, he 
had undervalued human society, wrapping himself up in sol- 
emn exclusiveness, not courting or caring for a friend ; but 
now he suffers for this lack ; and it is not without signifi- 
cance, as tending to confirm this view, that almost immedi- 
ately after, Elisha was associated with him as his coadjutor 
and companion. 

Let us learn from all this, therefore, to cultivate some spe- 
cial friendship which may prove a solace to us in time of 
trouble. AVe do ourselves injustice, and prepare for our- 

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Under the Juniper-tree. 123 

selves collapse and defeat like this of Elijah, when we keep 
ourselves aloof, frowning down all advances on the part of 
those who desire to be our friends, and determining, to stand 
alone. Ah, how have I seen the strong man bowed down 
and lying wailing under the juniper-tree, because, by his ex- 
clusiveness and reticence, he had in former times so sur- 
rounded himself with chevaux-de-frise that no one could get 
near him with sympathy and succor ! The wise man here 
may well instruct us : " Two are better than one ; because . 
they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, 
the one will lift up his fellow : but woe to him that is alone 
when he falleth. And if one prevail against him, two shall 
withstand him ; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken."* 
Still another cause for Elijah's depression may, perhaps, 
be found in the exaggerated expectations which he had been 
cherishing in regard to the results of his work. That thrill- 
ing cheer which made the echoes ring on Carmel, when the 
people shouted, ** Jehovah, he is the God ; Jehovah, he is 
the God," had' been interpreted by him as meaning that the 
subjects of Ahab would at once abjure idolatry, and rally 
round him as the prophet of Jehovah. But now, when Jeze- 
bel threatened his life, and no voice is raised on his behalf, 
he is disappointed, and seeks the wilderness. He imagines 
that his work has been in vain, and that the purpose of his 
life has been lost. His labor, he thinks, has been like wa- 
ter spilled upon the ground ; and so, in deepest self-abase- 
ment, he comes to God, saying: "Why should I live any 
longer? I wanted to stem the torrent of idolatry, and be so 
much better than my fathers as to destroy the evil which 
they left unchecked in the land. But I have failed, and am 
no better than they. Take away my life now." But had he 
only known human nature better, this dying-down of enthu- 

* Ecclesiastes iv., 9, 10, 12. 

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124 Elijah the Prophet. 

siasm on the part of the people would not have surprised 
him ; for nothing is more hollow and fluctuating than popu- 
lar applause. He forgot that the system which he was op- 
posing had human nature, worldly interest, and earthly fash- 
ion on its side, and that it was too deeply rooted to be over- 
turned by a "huzza." Grand as the Carmel triumph had 
been, that was not the winning of the campaign : it was rath- 
er but the sounding of the advance, or, at best, the achieve- 
ment of the first victory. The iniquity which he wished to 
remove was not to be destroyed in a day. It needed that 
the principles which he had announced, and the proofs which 
he had given on the mountain, should be received into men's 
minds, talked over in their homes, and prayed over in their 
closets, before any general effect could be produced ; and 
for all these things time was required. Nay, it might even 
be that his own martyrdom by Jezebel might have contrib- 
uted as much to the reformation as the scene on Carmel ; 
even as the smoke of Patrick Hamilton's burning at the 
stake was said to have infected all on whom it blew, and so 
to have commenced the Scottish Reformation. In any case, 
it seems to me that there was impatience, natural indeed, 
yet in its essence unbelieving, manifested by Elijah. He 
was looking for the harvest while yet the seed had but just 
left his hand, whereas " the husbandman waiteth for the pre- 
cious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, till he 
receive the early and the latter rain." Let us learn a lesson 
here also. 

Let us not be unduly elated by momentary success. It is 
pleasing at the moment, but it may not last, and we must 
discount a great deal from it when we come to call for self- 
denying efforts for the Lord's cause. Not every one who 
cheers on Carmel will rally round us at Jezreel, with Jezebel 
denouncing death upon our head. There is much truth in 
the words of Robertson here, though they be tinged a little 

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Under the Juniper-tree. 125 

by the bitterness of his own experience : " What is ministe- 
rial success? Crowded churches, full aisles, attentive con- 
gregations, the approval of the religious world, much impres- 
sion produced ? Elijah thought so ; and when he discovered 
his mistake, and found out that the Carmel applause sub- 
sided into hideous stillness, his heart well-nigh broke with 
disappointment. Ministerial success lies in altered lives 
and obedient, humble hearts, unseen worth recognized in 
the Judgment-day."* 

Let us beware, again, of falling into undue depression 
when the favor of the multitude dies down. It is not right 
to take that as a gauge of our real success or failure. There 
are some things to the merchant better than a fortune; 
there are some things to the minister more truly success than 
overflowing audiences. His grandest success will not be 
in immediate "hosannas," but rather in the gradual effects 
of his teaching and his example, through a course of years, 
upon those to whom he ministers. The tear-drop glistening 
in the eye of one penitent, brought to Jesus' feet by his ten- 
der words ; the knowledge that some poor victim of evil 
habit has broken asunder his chains under his influence ; 
the perception of growth in steadfast holiness of character in 
many of his flock — these, to him, ought to outweigh a thou- 
sand-fold the compliments of the crowd and the applause of 
thronging multitudes ; and in the days when he finds him- 
self deserted, his truest solace will be the remembrance that 
the truths which he has taught have taken living root in 
many hearts, and are bringing forth fruit to the honor of his 

Let us be sure, therefore, that we put a right value upon 
that which we have before we hanker after that which we 
have not ; and, above all, let us be moderate in our expec- 

* " Sermons," Second Series, p. 105. 

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126 Elijah the Prophet. 

tations. Luther had fo say to Melancthon once, when that 
great scholar was under the juniper -tree, that "old Adam 
was too strong for young Philip ;" and many an earnest work- 
er would be spared much distress, and be prevented from 
running away from his post in despair, if he were more cor- 
rectly to appreciate the difficulties which he has to encount- 
er, and more \yisely to estimate the character of those re- 
sults for which he is to look. 

Finally, here, we may perhaps see another cause of Eli- 
jah's depression in the fact that he was giving too great 
prominence to himself in the matter. On a memorable oc- 
casion in Samuel's life, when he was greatly distressed at the 
thought that the tribes would not longer have him as their 
judge, but desired a king, the Lord at once rebuked and 
strengthened him by saying, " They have not rejected thee ; 
but they have rejected me." So, when Jonah lay in anger 
under the gourd, the great cause of his misery was that he 
was thinking more of his reputation as a prophet than of 
Jehovah's glory in the salvation of the Ninevites. In like 
manner, I think I can trace in Elijah's somewhat self-com- 
placent rehearsal of his doings, when God questioned him in 
Horeb, that he was suffering in some degree from wounded 

It is remarkable that those who are the loudest in their 
complaints of want of success are often, also, those who 
have the highest idea of their own powers. By a singular 
law of compensation, they make up for the lack of apprecia- 
tion of them by others by an undue opinion of themselves. 
I am very far indeed from saying that Elijah belonged to 
that class ; yet I can not but feel that, in this one instance, 
he was the victim of wounded pride. So just to let him see 
what he would be, or, rather, what he was when left to him- 
self, God let him alone ; and he ran away. 

Let us learn from all this to think more of God's glory 

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Under the Juniper-tree. 127 

than our own reputation. The cause is of infinitely more 
importance than any individual among us. When we begin 
t6 fret over our own lack of recognition, we are in danger 
of falling into some disgrace, and, by-and-by, may find our- 
selves under the juniper-tree in the saddest and darkest de- 
spair, crying, " I am aweary, aweary ; I would that I were 
dead !" The humble man is ever the most patient, and the 
most persistent in the service of the Lord. 

But now let us follow the history, and note how Jehovah 
dealt with his servant in his circumstances of depression. 
And here you will observe, first, that he gave him rest and 
refreshment. He let him lie still and sleep, that by the re- 
storing influence of slumber his frame might recover its elas- 
ticity. He did not awake him by violence; but when the 
time came that he should eat, he sent his angel to prepare 
nourishing food for him, and gently to invite him to partake 
of it. A second time this was done for him, and he was ad- 
monished to eat heartily, because a long journey was before 
him. Who can read this story without being reminded of 
our Lord's treatment of the multitude when it was said that 
" he would not send them away fasting, lest they should 
faint by the way ?" Then, whether by divine direction or 
of his own motive we can not tell, he arose and went to 
Horeb, that amidst those bare and lonely peaks, where Je- 
hovah gave the law to Moses, he, too, might meet his cov- 
enant God. 

Now, what considerate kindness have we in all this ! Of 
a truth God " will not break the bruised reed, nor quench 
the smoking flax." His servant had erred, yet he was just 
then in no proper state to be admonished for his error ; so 
God strengthened him, in order that he might bear reproof. 
As when a father has gone in search of a runaway son, and 
finds him stricken down with a dangerous fever, he sits 
down and nurses him with tenderness, saying no word of 

Digitized by 


128 Elijah the Prophet. 

blame until he has been in some measure restored to health, 
so the Lord here will not put too heavy a load upon the 
heart-broken prophet, but makes the most appropriate pro- 
vision for his comfort and support. Behold the gentleness 
of our Godj and whensoever we are lying under the juni- 
per-tree, let us recall with re-assurance this kindness shown 
to Elijah, and rest in the conviction that in some similar 
though non-miraculous way he will visit and sustain us. 

But not less remarkable is the admonition, partly in words 
and partly in supernatural symbol, which the Lord address- 
es to his servant ; nor can we read the account of it with- 
out having recalled to us a similar revelation made by Jeho- 
vah to Moses in the same locality. Both were immediately 
consequent upon a signal execution of righteous judgment. 
Moses had come from the slaying of the idolaters ; Elijah 
from the destruction of Baal's priests. In both there was a 
clear and particular reference to the mercy and graciousness 
of God ; but the one was given to strengthen a faithful serv- 
ant, the other to correct the false impressions of a sincere 
though erring prophet. To Moses the Lord said, " My pres- 
ence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest ;" to Elijah 
he said, " What doest thou here ?" The question was em- 
phatic, and must have suggested far more than it expressed. 
Thou, my appointed messenger and chosen champion, here ! 
so far from the scene of thy labors and the post of duty ! So 
he probed the conscience of Elijah ; and so, not in the des- 
ert of Sinai, but in the highways of business, or in the by- 
ways of sin, or in the solemn assembly, he often probes ours. 

Ah, how frequently have we heard, sounding in our secret 
ears, these same words of searching inquiry, AVhat doest 
thou, a professed adherent of the Lord Jesus, here, in the 
gambling- room, or haunt of sensuality or intemperance? 
AVhat doest thou, a real disciple of the Lord, here, among 
those who make a mock at his name and a jest of his relig- 

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Under the Juniper-tree. 129 

ion ? What doest thou, a selfish, godless man, here, at the 
table of the Lord with those who truly love and serve him ? 
Friends, when this stern voice is heard by us thus, let us wel- 
come it as the utterance of God, and resolve that by his help 
it shall never again require to be addressed to us. " Faith- 
ful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy 
are deceitful." 

Then, after Elijah had- attempted to vindicate himself, in 
words that seem to reveal the wounded self-love to which I 
have referred, saying: "I have been very jealous for the 
Lord God of hosts : for the children of Israel have forsaken 
thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy proph- 
ets with the sword ; and I, even I only, am left ; and they 
seek my life, to take it away." The Lord said : " Go forth, 
and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, 
the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the 
mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord ; 
but the Lord was not in the wind : and after the wind an 
earthquake ; but the Lord was not in the earthquake : and 
after the earthquake a fire ; but the Lord was not in the fire : 
and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when 
Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and 
went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, 
behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest 
thou here, Elijah ?" And this new inquiry he answered after 
the former manner. ^ 

Now, various interpretations of this spectacle have been 
suggested, but to my mind it seems to be a symbolical delin- 
eation to the ptophet of the nature of the work which he had 
done, and a suggestion to him of that which had been want- 
ing in order to the attainment of the success on which his 
heart had been set. There had been about him much of the 
whirlwind, the earthquake, and the fire. He had said and 
done much to terrify and alarm. But he was to learn that 


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130 Elijah the Prophet. 

God was not in these things. These were but the awful out- 
riders of his majesty ; but that majesty itself is gentleness. 

Here, therefore, as it appears to me, a great principle was 
unfolded to Elijah, and to all workers for God, and an inti- 
mation is given that, while they may need to use the earth- 
quake and the fire, the secret of their power will ever be in 
"love." It was as if Jehovah had said: "But half of thy 
work is done, and that half the least profitable and powerful. 
Thou hast used the terror of the whirlwind. Go back, and 
try with men the still small voice of tenderness and compas- 
sion." Not John the Baptist, but Jesus, is the regenerator 
of men ; and though John must go before Jesus, yet to ex- 
pect that he shall succeed in reforming the world is as ab- 
surd as to suppose that the plowshare and the harrow will 
produce a harvest without the genial heat of the sun and the 
kindly rain of the clouds. 

Then, having given Elijah this lesson, the Lord says to 
him, " Yet have I left me seven thousand in Israel, all the 
knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth 
which hath not kissed him." Things were not so bad as to 
tJie prophet's jaundiced eye they looked. However hardly 
we may judge of matters, they are usually better than we 
deem, and in any case we must not let ourselves complain 
of lack of success until we have patiently exhausted all in- 
quiries, and can speak from fullest knowledge. Not in the 
shout of the multitude on Carmel, but in the existence of 
those hidden ones, must Elijah see the true results of his 
faithful labors. 

One thing, however, needs to be said here : God does not 
excuse these seven thousand for their silence. They ought 
to have declared themselves ; and if they had done so, per- 
haps Elijah's flight had never occurred. Ah! how many 
servants of God have pined in melancholy, because none 
of those whom they have been the means of benefiting ever 

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Under THE Juniper-tree. 131 

came to say to them, " God bless you, you have done me 

When Chalmers was in the very zenith of his popularity 
in Glasgow, and crowds were gathering every Sabbath round 
his pulpit, he was walking home one evening with a friend, 
who told him of a soul who had been converted through tlie 
instrumentality of a sermon which he had preached. Im- 
mediately the tear-drop glittered in the good man's eye, and 
his voice faltered as he said : " That is the best news I have 
heard for long. I was beginning to think that I had mis- 
taken the leadings of Providence in coming to your city ; but 
this will keep me up." And how many similar cases might 
be told ? Grumblers come often enough to the pastor, com- 
plaining that they have been neglected, or that things are 
not just as they want them to be ; but the people who are 
really upheld and comforted and blessed keep themselves 
hidden, until, too often, with his energies broken and his 
spirit crushed, the minister gives up in despair. Many an 
Elijah who has fled to the wilderness might have kept his 
post, if only those whom he had strengthened by his labors 
had come to him and encouraged him by their affection. 

Finally, observe that God gives the prophet here some 
new work to do. He will take him out of himself by send- 
ing him on a new commission : " Go, return on thy way to 
the wilderness of Damascus : and when thou comest, anoint 
Hazael to be king over Syria ; and Jehu the son of Nimshi 
shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel : and Elisha the 
son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah shalt thou anoint to be 
prophet in thy room." There are few ministries more heal- 
ing than that of work. A friend of mine in the pastorate, 
who had lost his wife, once said to me that he had no true 
comfort till he resumed his work. Kind counselors had 
sent him to one place and another, assuring him that change 
of scene would do him good ; but his first consolation came 

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132 Elijah the Prophet. 

to him through his ministry for others. And so it will be 
with us. The standing pool breeds fetid weeds and harbors 
croaking frogs ; the running stream filters as it flows, and 
sings the while a happy song in the Creator's ear. Let us 
seek to keep our happiness in keeping at our work, for by 
the Gospel of Jesus labor has been transfigured into a means 
of grace. 

Thus have I sought to bring before you the practical in- 
struction of this chapter. Despondency may be on us now, 
or it may come to us in the future ; but in either case let us 
remember God's dealings with Elijah, and so the lesson of 
this evening will be like God's own hand held down to us, 
by grasping which we may lift ourselves up from our dejec- 
tion, and sing, " Why art thou cast down, O my soul ? Hope 
in God, for thou shalt yet praise him, who is the health of 
thy countenance, and thy God." 

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I Kings xix., 19-21. 

T the close of the last act of the stirring life-drama of 
Elijah, the curtain fell before the desert-cave of Horeb, 
where, after the passing-by of whirlwind and earthquake and 
fire, we heard the still small voice, followed by the divine re- 
proof and admonition ; and now, by one of those rapid transi- 
tions for which this prophet's history is remarkable, the scene 
is changed, and we look upon " the laughing brightness of a 
river-bordered meadow," with happy plowmen following their 
steers, and preparing the furrows for the precious seed. The 
place is Abel-meholah, literally, " the meadow of the dance ;" 
therefore, as we may believe, the chosen resort of the youth 
of the surrounding districts in all their times of rural festival. 
It was situated in the plain of Jordan, about ten miles south 
of Beth-shean, and between that and Shechem. Long ago it 
had been the refuge of the host of the Midianites when they 
were pursued by Gideon ;* but now it is in the possession of 
Shaphat, who, eager to take advantage of the favorable change 
which the late rains have brought, has sent all his laborers 
into the field to plow. 

It is a busy scene, for there are twelve plows at work, each 
drawn by a yoke of oxen ; and with the last of the twelve, 
bringing up the rear and superintending the movements of 
all the rest, is the beloved son of the farmer, who thinks it 

* Judges vii., 22. 

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134 Elijah the Prophet. 

not beneath him to engage in manual labor. But though 
we are all familiar with such agricultural operations in our 
own country, there are some things in the spectacle before 
us which are quite peculiar, and which call for explanation. 
The first is the shape and character of the plows employed. 
They are, indeed, of the rudest description, and as far as pos- 
sible from equaling the elaborate implement which among 
us is so denominated. They are each, in fact, little else than 
a stout branch of a tree, from which projects another limb, 
shortened and pointed; and they are so light that a man 
may easily carry his own, and may guide it with one of his 
hands. You observe, too, that the different plowmen are not 
spread over the meadow, each working at a separate portion 
of it, as would be the case with us ; but they are following each 
other in line, and going over and over again the same fur- 
row, Elisha having the last yoke, as the place of honor. This 
is owing to the fact that the plows are so insignificant and 
slight that they merely scratch the soil. Hence any num- 
ber of them may follow one another, each doing its own lit- 
tle share in turning up the earth ; and even after they have 
all passed over it, the furrow will not be deep, so that they 
may have sometimes to return along the same line, and thus 
go back and forth until the work has been satisfactorily ac- 

Plowing thus at Abel-meholah is a social thing. The men 
can talk and joke and laugh as easily as upon the harvest- 
field, and therefore you need not be astonished at the mirth- 
ful sounds that meet your ear as you look down upon the 
happy company. It is no place this for private meditation ; 
and yet, as we shall see, a holy heart may serve God as real- 
ly and as acceptably amidst the labor and the frolic of this 
busy meadow as does the high-priest within the courts of the 
Temple at the hour of evening sacrifice. Ay, and yonder 
comes the token that this service is a sweet savor to the 

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Abel-meholah. 135 

Lord. For, lo ! on his way from Horeb to Damascus, his 
face yet saddened by the sorrow which his flight has caused, 
and his gait a little less defiant than before, as if yet he scarce- 
ly felt restored to himself, Elijah steps all unheralded upon 
the field ; and plucking his mantle from his shoulders, he 
throws it over Elisha. That is all. He stays not to utter a 
word, but passes on as if there were something in the future 
beckoning him forward, and forbidding all delay. 

It seems a strange proceeding ; and, to our Western eyes, 
it looks as if the stern old prophet had so far relaxed as to 
indulge in some practical jest at the young farmer's expense. 
But no, it can not be a joke ; for he who is most intimately 
concerned, leaving his plow midway in the furrow, runs after 
the Tishbite, and meekly asks if he may go back and give a 
farewell kiss to his parents ere he leave them. To this Eli- 
jah answers, " Go back again, for what have I done to thee ?" 
That is, not as the cursory reader is apt to imagine, " Go 
back, for I have done nothing to thee," but rather, " Return ; 
see that you remain not with them, or delay beside them, for 
you know full well the solemn significance of that which I 
have done." And what was that significance ? Elisha, as 
we must suppose, was well acquainted with the appearance 
and office of Elijah. He knew him to be the prophet of the 
Lord ; perhaps, also, he had heard, or, as one of the vast as- 
semblage on the plain beneath the brow of Carmel, he had 
seen, what the Tishbite had done in honor of Jehovah ; and 
the casting of this robe on him he knew to be the designation 
of himself as his coadjutor and successor in the holy office. 

Dr. Jamieson, in his " Eastern Manners," has given a full 
explanation of this symbolic act. He says : " This ceremony 
has always been considered by Eastern people an indispen- 
sable part of the consecration to the sacred office. It is in 
this way that the Brahmans are still invested with the priest- 
ly character, a yellow mantle being thrown across their shoul- 

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136 Elijah the Prophet. 

ders, which is buckled round the waist with a sacred ribbon ; 
and it is in this way, too, that the Persian Sufis are appointed. 
The master, in anticipation of death, selecting one of his fa- 
vorite pupils, bequeaths his antiquated garment to- the youth, 
who by that act is publicly recognized as his successor, and 
looked upon as inheriting along with the mantle the virtues 
and powers of his venerable precursor. It was evidently 
owing to the prevalence of the same Asiatic sentiments 
among the Israelites that the succession to the prophetic 
office was determined by the descent of his master's cloak 
upon Elisha ; and so well was the action understood, as con- 
veying to the servant the spirit and authority of the master, 
that he was universally acknowledged as the successor of 
that eminent prophet, and the leading champion in his age 
of the cause of God." 

It was, therefore, because Elisha knew the meaning of 
Elijah's act, and because he heard in it the voice of God 
calling him to leave his father and mother, and give himself 
entirely up to the work of Jehovah among his countrymen, 
that he ran after Elijah and made the request he did. He 
saw that, if he obeyed that call, he must forsake his home 
and kindred, and he wished for an opportunity to say one 
formal and affectionate farewell. Henceforth he was to put 
his hand to another plow ; and that he might not be tempt- 
ed to look back after he had begun his new occupation, he 
wishes now to go and say good-bye to his parents and his 
friends. It was not, therefore, because he wanted to excuse 
himself for not obeying the call, but rather because he de- 
sired with his whole heart to obey it, that he asked permis- 
sion to return ; and so we account for the difference between 
the answer which Elijah gave to him, and that which Jesus 
gave to the man who presented a similar request to him.* 

• Luke ix., 61, 62. 

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Abel-meholah. 137 

The man who said to the Lord, " I will follow thee ; but let 
me first go bid them farewell which are at home at my 
house," was a waverer ; he was trembling on the verge of 
decision, and was, by reason of the strength of his family 
affection, in danger of deciding wrong. Hence Jesus said to 
him, in language probably suggested by this very incident, 
" No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking 
back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Elisha, however, was 
already determined to obey the call, and so he readily ob- 
tained the permission which he sought. 

But surely this is a strange way to say farewell. Here are 
no tokens of regret. No tears are shed on either side ; or if 
they are, they are tears as much of joy as of sorrow, for Eli- 
sha is stepping upward to a loftier sphere than that which 
heretofore he has filled. Hence he gives an extemporized 
banquet to his family and companions. He parts from them 
with gladness, not, indeed, because he is leaving them, but 
because he is going to a nobler work, in the call to which 
he sees the highest honor of his life. Like as when Mat- 
thew left his toll-booth to follow Christ, he gave a great feast 
to his companions, so Elisha here makes a festival for his 
associates ; then, hurrying from the joyous board, he hastens 
after Elijah ; and as the curtain drops again, we see the 
plowmen in the field, but Elisha is not there ; for he has 
gone to work in the greater field of God's own church, and 
henceforth he is to deal with human hearts, and to scatter 
in them the seeds of God's eternal truth. 

There is much in this history to give us encouragement 
and direction. Let us linger a while to gather up its les- 

Observe, then, in the first place, the care exercised by God 
in securing a constant succession of teachers for his people. 
He is always independent of any individual man. No one 
person is indispensable to the carrying-forward of his gra- 

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138 Elijah the Prophet. 

eious designs ; for as one after another disappears, it is in- 
variably found that his forerunning care has anticipated the 
blank, and prepared already some other servant to step in 
and fill it up. When Aaron was sent up Mount Hor to die, 
he was commanded first to array his son Eleazar in the robes 
of the high-priesthood, and to anoint him to the office which 
he himself had held ; and before Moses began the ascent of 
Pisgah, from whose summit he looked, for the first and last 
time, on the land of promise, he had charged Joshua in Je- 
hovah's name to take his place. So, again, when David was 
prevented from fulfilling the cherished desire of his heart, 
and was not permitted to build the Temple for whose erec- 
tion he had gathered so many materials, he was told that 
Solomon, his son, a man of peace, would enter upon and fin- 
ish his beloved work. In like manner, in New-Testament 
times, just as Stephen disappears from view, Saul, who was 
afterward called Paul, comes in sight, and takes up the par- 
ticular department of work for the Christian church which, 
in his address before the council, the protomartyr had al- 
ready made his own. 

But so it always is ; Jesus has declared that the gates of 
the grave shall not prevail against his church ; and just as, 
here, Elisha was ready to take Elijah's place, it will com- 
monly be found that when one ser\'ant of the Master is re- 
moved from earth, or is sent to another field of labor, there 
has been, all unconsciously to himself perhaps, and to those 
around him, another led, through a course of training, to 
take the post which has been vacated. 

The church does not depend on any man, or any set of 
men; it rests on Christ; and from its ascended Lord it 
receives, always according to its need, "some apostles, and 
some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and 
teachers, for the work of the ministr}% for the perfecting of 

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Abel-meholah. 139 

the saints, for the edifying of the body of Christ."* Individ- 
uals die, but the race abides ; believers die, but the church 
remains ; ministers are removed, but the ministry continues ; 
for at the head of all is the Lord Jesus, and he " is the same 
yesterday, to-day, and forever." To him, therefore, let all ap- 
plication be made when churches need an under-shepherd. 
" He walketh among the candlesticks, and holdeth the stars 
in his right hand ;" and if he send one ser\'ant to work else- 
where, be sure that he will find another to take up the labor 
which is left. Herein is that saying true, " One soweth, and 
another reapeth." The seed which has been scattered un- 
der one minister has not all sprung up, when another, sent 
by God, will come to quicken its growth, and to fill his bo- 
som with the harvest sheaves ; and there shall come a day — 
the crown of all our days — when the work of each shall be 
made apparent, and "he that soweth and he that reapeth 
may rejoice together." 

Observe, in the second place, here, the honor which God 
puts upon industry in one's common daily work. Elisha 
was not called while he was engaged at his private devo- 
tions, though, judging of his character from the ready re- 
sponse which he made at this time, we are warranted in say- 
ing that his closet would not be neglected ; but it was while 
he was following the plow that Elijah came upon him, and 
threw his mantle over him. God would thus teach us that 
we must not neglect our daily business, and that his rich bless- 
ing will descend upon us while we are serving him, whether 
that service be of a specially devotional sort, or of a more 
common and ordinary description. He is pledged, indeed, 
to hear his people when they call upon him ; but he has oft- 
en, also, come to them while they were seeking to glorify him 
by honest industry. Moses was keeping his father-in-law's 

* Ephesians iv., 11. 

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I40 Elijah the Prophet. 

flock when God appeared to him in the burning bush and 
commissioned him to conduct the exodus of his people from 
the land of bondage. Gideon was found by the angel at his 
threshing-floor when he was made the leader of his people 
against their Midianite oppressors. David was sent for from 
following the sheep in the fields of Bethlehem to receive the 
anointing oil from Samuel's horn. "Amos was taken from 
tending his herd at Tekoah when he was sent to Israel with 
a message from the Lord ; and in the early history of the 
Gospel, if Nathanael was called to follow Christ from his se- 
clusion under the fig-tree, Peter and James and John were 
taken from the fisherman's boat, and Matthew from the tax- 
gatherer's office. God thus honors work, when work is done 
faithfully and for him. 

But some there are who think that this call is no honor. 
They imagine that to be a prophet, or teacher, or apostle, or 
a minister of Christ, is a smaller thing than to be a success- 
ful merchant or a great manufacturer ; and so they deliber- 
ately refuse to obey the call. I willingly allow, indeed, that 
there are ijiany in the ranks of the ministry who have imag- 
ined that they heard God's call, whereas they are signally un- 
fitted for the office into which they have thrust themselves. 
But it is just as true that there are multitudes in business 
life who would have adorned the ministry, and who would 
have been eminently successful in it, but who, when they 
heard God calling them, deliberately preferred the gains of 
the world to the honor which he had designed for them. 

It is the complaint of all our churches that our young men 
seem lacking now in that spirit of enthusiasm and self-sacri- 
fice which would lead them to consecrate themselves to the 
service of God in the ministry of the Gospel ; and it is fear- 
ed that the prizes of commerce prove a stronger attraction 
than the happiness of winning souls. If this be so, let this 
worldly spirit in our youth be solemnly rebuked by the nar- 

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Abel-meholah. 141 

rative that has been to-night before us. There is no higher 
honor God can put upon a man than to call him to the min- 
istry of his Son ; there is no greater joy the soul can know 
than that of leading another soul to Christ ; and if the high- 
est angel might choose, among aril earthly occupations, that 
which he would most delight in, it would be to tell again to 
men, as of yore he told to the shepherds of Bethlehem, the 
glad tidings, " that unto them is born a Saviour who is Christ 
the Lord." All work is honorable; and the followers of 
Him who for many long years "wrought as a common car- 
penter in Nazareth need never be ashamed of horny hands 
and hammering toil. Christ has consecrated and ennobled 
all such handicraft, and whoso sneers at that blasphemeth 
him. But yet, of all labor which the earth can furnish, that 
is the most. honorable which is put forth in the ministry of 
the Gospel ; and he who, when the mande of God's call fall- 
eth over him, declines to wear it, is refusing one of the no- 
blest, happiest, most useful, and most honorable positions 
which the Lord can give. When God called Elisha, he said 
to him, " Come up higher." " They that be wise shall shine 
as the brightness of the firmament ; and they that turn many 
to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever." 

Observe, in the third place, that special training is need- 
ed for special work. We saw.that for the stern duties which 
Elijah had to discharge, he was particularly fitted by the 
solitude of his early life, and the rugged grandeur of the 
scenes in the midst of which he dwelt. Elisha, on the other 
hand, was trained for the more peaceful and gentle ministry 
on which he was sent, by the home-life of his father's house, 
and the quiet influences of agricultural pursuits. Like many 
another minister, his first college was his home ; and there, 
as we are warranted in believing, from the readiness with 
which they gave him up to his new work, his parents trained 
him in the nurture of the Lord. Among the seven thousand 

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142 Elijah the Prophet. 

who had not bowed the knee to Baal, as we believe they 
were, they would speak with him often and long of Jehovah, 
and the wonders which he had wrought of old in his peo- 
ple's behalf, thus all unconsciously preparing him for the 
future which God had planned for him ; and when the call to 
the prophet's office did come, they did not interpose, heap- 
ing difficulty upon difficulty, and doing every thing they 
could to bar the way, but they generously gave him up, feel- 
ing that God had put the highest possible honor upon their 
home-training by crowning it with his approval. Time was 
when the office of the ministry was thus regarded by the fa- 
thers and mothers of our churches ; but now, alas ! they too 
are poisoned by the atmosphere of the world ; and, to have 
a ministry revived in numbers and in power, we must have 
first a revival of the family life out of which the ministers of 
the past did spring. Give us back the godly households of 
the past, and we shall not lack a devoted ministry. 

But this was not the whole of Elisha's training. For 
seven years after the incidents which we have been consid- 
ering, he was the companion and friend of Elijah; and so 
he was under the best of preparatory influences for his work. 
In like manner, it is highly requisite that those who, in our 
day, are to be the spiritual teachers of others should them- 
selves be specially instructed. I know, indeed, that many 
have sneered at our colleges and theological seminaries, and 
have styled the men that issued from them man-made minis- 
ters^ while they have pointed us to the first preachers of the 
Gospel who were unlearned and ignorant men. But they 
who reason thus forget that the first apostles had the privi- 
lege, for three years and a half, of receiving the instructions 
and taking on the impress of Him who was emphatically 
"the Great Teacher," and that, in addition to this advantage, 
they enjoyed the special gift of the Holy Spirit, " to bring 
all things to their remembrance, whatsoever Christ had said 

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unto them." This was certainly a very special and peculiar 
training ; and so far from its being an argument for no train- 
ing at all, the case of the apostles is one of the strongest 
that can be cited in favor of the best system of educating 
the ministers of the Gospel. 

It has been alleged, again, that the secular studies of our 
colleges have a tendency to deaden the piety of those who 
prosecute them, so that they who have entered our semi- 
naries all aglow with zeal have often left them cold and 
dead, and utterly unfit either to interest or edify their hear- 
ers. But this need not be the case if these studies be prop- 
erly pursued and rightly superintended ; and if the training 
of the ministry is important at any time, it is specially so 
now, when questions of criticism, science, and philosophy 
are' discussed by the propagandists of infidelity, with the 
view of unsettling men's faith in the Word of God.* There 
will always be splendid exceptions to every rule, and in 
every age you will find some of the noblest ministers who 
have never been in a college in their lives ; but their cases 
are no rule for others, and they- themselves, from their own 
experience, will be the most earnest in enforcing special 
preparation upon others ; so that our young men who pre- 
sent themselves for the ministry need not murmur if they 
find that, as in Elisha's case, they have to reach the goal of 
their desire through a seven -years' service at the side of 
some Elijah. 

Observe, in the fourth place, that God finds use for the 
distinct individualities of his servants. There are " diversi- 
ties of gifts, but the same spirit." All God's ministers are 
not made after the same pattern. There are individual feat- 
ures of character and disposition, as distinctive of each as 
are the outlines of the face of each. John is quite different 
from Peter, and Paul is distinct from both. What a con- 
trast do we find between Elijah and Elisha ! It is inipossi- 

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144 Elijah the Prophet. 

ble to give it vividness without anticipating many of the 
statements of the history ; but you know enough of both al- 
ready to be convinced that I am speaking truly. Elijah be- 
gan his ministry with the announcement of a terrible calam- 
ity ; Elisha signalized the commencement of his public work 
by the performance of a miracle of mercy. Elijah dwelt 
apart in the desert, like John the Baptist ; Elisha abode in 
the cities, and mingled with men in their homes and in the 
streets, like him who was a guest at the feast of Cana, and 
taught in the streets of Capernaum. Elijah dealt in denun- 
ciation, and called down fire from heaven to devour his ad- 
versaries ; Elisha's might was in his gentleness, and he went 
everywhere carrying a blessing. Elijah with the plow and 
harrow tore up the soil; Elisha followed, casting in the 
seed ; or, to go back to the parabolic miracle which was 
last Lord's Day before our thoughts, Elijah was the whirl- 
wind, the earthquake, and the fire ; Elisha was the still small 
voice. Each came in his own order ; each was excellent for 
his own department. The one could not do the other's 
work, and both together were needed for the service of God. 
So it is yet. There are diversities of aptitude and charac- 
ter among the servants of God ; but all who love him are 
his servants, and the qualities of each, however diverse from 
those of the others, are made subservient to the purposes of 
Jehovah's grace. Each has his own beauty and excellence. 
The rose is not the violet, neither the daffodil the primrose ; 
but God has made them all, and has revealed his wisdom 
distinctively in each. So in the members of his church there 
is a variety in unity, and the effect is to manifest more won- 
derfully to men and angels his own "manifold wisdom." 

Once more : the conduct of Elisha here furnishes us with 
a beautiful example of the spirit and manner in which we 
should respond to the call of the Lord Jesus Christ. If 
w^ have rightly represented his views as to the meaning of 

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Abel-meholah. 145 

the act performed by Elijah on him, Elisha must have fully 
counted the cost of the step which he was about to take in 
responding to Jehovah's call. He knew that he must leave 
his home. He knew, also, that with an Ahab on the throne, 
a Jezebel in the palace, and an idolatrous population scat- 
tered over the country, the duties of the prophetical office 
would be not only onerous, but dangerous. Yet he confer- 
red not with flesh and blood, but promptly and decidedly 
arose and went after Elijah. Now, so it ought to be with us 
and Christ. He does not call every one of us now to the 
office of the ministry, indeed, neither does he require us to 
leave our father's house in every case ; but every man who 
hears the Gospel is required to renounce himself and his 
sins, to take Jesus for his Lord, and to follow him in the 
sense of imbibing his principles and imitating his example. 
No matter though it should entail pecuniary loss or person- 
al danger ; no matter though it should estrange us from the 
closest earthly relatives, and separate us from our most cher- 
ished friends ; no matter though it should demand the sac- 
rifice of pleasures dear to us as a right hand or a right eye ; 
no matfer though it should put us in peril of the prison or 
the scaffold, we are required to " follow him." Here are the 
terms : " Whosoever will be my disciple, let him deny him- 
self," /. ^., renounce himself, " and take up his cross daily and 
follow me." Once again, O sinner ! Christ has come to you 
and made this solemn call. Let him not cast his mantle 
over you in vain. Let no sin hold you back from his service. 
Let no shame repel you from his allegiance. Let no fear 
frighten you from the ranks of his followers. Rise and go 
with him. The very obedience which you render to his call 
will be itself within you a richer feast than that which Elisha 
spread before his fellows when he left his home. Go after 
him at once ; but as you go, remember that you must trust 
in his strength, and not in your own. Be not heady and 


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146 Elijah the Prophet. 

high-minded, like him who said, " Lord, I will go with thee 
to prison and to judgment," and who, ere long, denied him ; 
be steady, be resolute, be humble, like him who went right 
forward into trial with these words upon his lips : " None of 
these things move me ; neither count I my life dear unto 
myselfi so that I might finish my course with joy, and the 
ministry which I have received of the Lord." 

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I Kings xxi. 

THE scene is in the city of Jezreel, where Ahab has his 
ivory summer palace, and whither he has just come 
from Samaria to take possession of a vineyard which lay 
contiguous to his park, and which he meant to turn into a 
flower-garden. He is in his royal chariot, and behind him* 
are riding Jehu, the son of Nimshi, and his comrade and 
subordinate, Bidkar — men destined, in after-days, to be the 
executioners of Jehovah's righteous retribution on the house 
of Jezebel, but now high in the favor of the reigning mon- 
arch. He is pointing out to them with pride the beauty of 
the situation, dwelling especially on the rounded complete- 
ness which this new acquisition gives to his fair domain, and 
unfolding to them the plan after which he means to lay it 
out, when, with the lightning-like suddenness so character- 
istic of all his movements, Elijah, in his hairy garment and 
leathern girdle, starts up before him, and rolls out the thun- 
der of a new and terrible denunciation : " Thus saith Jeho- 
vah. Hast thou killed ? and also taken possession ? Thus 
saith Jehovah, in the place where dogs licked the blood of 
Naboth, shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine." 
What means this dreadful interruption to Ahab's tour of 

* 2 Kings ix., 25. 

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148 Elijah the Prophet. 

inspection and admiration? What has the king done to 
provoke this fearful doom ? To answer these questions we 
must go back a little, and recount the particulars recorded 
in the early part of the chapter which constitutes our sub- 
ject for this evening. Years have passed since that memo- 
rable night when Elijah, with his mantle girt about him, ran 
from Carmel before the monarch to the gates of this very 
palace, and they have not been either uneventful in them- 
selves, or entirely discreditable to Ahab ; for twice, by the 
assistance of Jehovah graciously rendered, and gratefully re- 
ceived, he has overcome in battle his old Syrian enemy, Ben- 
hadad. But this great prosperity only filled his heart with 
pride and covetousness, and he desired to signalize his vic- 
tories by making some splendid additions to the park sur- 
rounding his ivory palace at Jezreel. As it happened, there 
was a vineyard, the situation of which was hard by his land. 
Indeed, it probably abutted in upon his grounds, making 
what he conceived to be an \igly angle in his possessions. 
What more natural, therefore, than that he should wish to 
straighten his boundary? or what apparently more honest 
than his offer to its owner : " Give me thy vineyard, that I 
may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto 
my house, and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than 
it, or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it 
in money." Perfectly fair, and in ordinary circumstances, 
or in another land, one would have expected that Naboth, 
to whom the vineyard belonged, would have been glad of an 
opportunity of obliging his royal neighbor by complying with 
his request. But the tenure by which the Israelite held his 
land was peculiar ; and there was another party to all such 
transactions, of whom Ahab took no note. Throughout 
Judah and Israel, Jehovah was the real owner of the soil ; 
and every tribe received its territory and every family its 
inheritance by lot from him,* with this added condition, "The 

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Naboth's Vineyard. 149 

land shall not be sold forever ; for the land is mine ;"* and 
again, " Every one of the children of Israel shall keep him- 
self" (or, as in the margin, "cleave to") "the inheritance 
of the tribe of his fathers.^f It is probable, indeed, that in 
such a time of wide-spread idolatry as that which Ahab had ' 
introduced, this land-ordinance had been too generally dis-. 
regarded; but Naboth "feared the Lord." Though he was 
Ahab's nearest neighbor at Jezreel, he was, as I think we 
are safe in concluding, one of those who refused at the king's 
command to bow the knee to Baal ; so now, with every dis- 
position in the world to oblige the king, he felt that he must 
obey God rather than man, and therefore he declined to sell 
his property. Had he been in debt to clamorous creditors, 
he might have had some colorable pretext for accepting the 
monarch's offer, though even then a reversion of the property 
to his family at the Year of Jubilee would have been insisted 
on. But he had not even this excuse to plead, and there- 
fore, with leal-hearted loyalty to the covenant God of Israel, 
he made reply, " The Lord forbid it me that I should give 
the inheritance of my fathers unto thee." 

This answer utterly disconcerted Ahab ; so that, as on a 
former occasion^ when he was reproved by a prophet for his 
leniency to Ben-hadad, he went to his house " heavy and 
displeased," or, as we should now say, stubborn and " in the 
sulks." Like a spoiled child, who has been so much accus- 
tomed to his own way in every thing that he knows not how 
to bear refusal, and lies down sprawling on the floor in the 
impotence of rage and disappointment, the monarch was 
actually so much affected that he took to his bed, and re- 
fused his food, at the same time declining to see or converse 
with any of his courtiers. He evidently had no thought of 
forcing Naboth to yield to his desires, or of laying violent 

♦ Leviticus xxv., 23. f Numbers xxxvi., 7. J i Kings xx., 46. 

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150 Elijah the Prophet. 

hands either upon himself or on his property. But Jezebel 
was not burdened with any such conscientious regard for 
the rights of others ; and when she learned what the cause 
of her husband's moping was, she bitterly taunted him with 
his scrupulous timidity, and intimated that she would make 
short work with Naboth and his inheritance. " What," said 
she, "you the king of Israel ! and allow yourself to be thus 
disobeyed and defied by a common yeoman! You have 
been altogether too courteous and considerate in the offer 
you have made him. I will give you his vineyard, and pay 
nothing for it either !" 

So, taking the royal seal, she wrote letters to the elders 
of Jezreel, intimating that some dreadful sin had been com- 
mitted in their city, for which it was needful that a fast 
should be proclaimed, in order to avert the wrath of Heaven. 
At the same time she named Naboth as the special object 
of the king's displeasure, and commanded that two. false wit- 
nesses should be obtained, who should declare that he had 
blasphemed God and the king, for which, as she well knew, 
the law condemned every convicted one to death. To this 
precious document she affixed the royal seal, and then trans- 
mitted it to Jezreel, and calmly waited the result. 

Nor had she reckoned without her host in the matter ; for 
the rulers of Jezreel, either in dread of offending one whose 
revenge they knew was terrible, or eager to do a service to 
one to whom in temporal matters they were so largely in- 
debted, or moved with envy against Naboth, as one whose 
piety had been a standing protest against their own iniquity, 
carried out her instructions to the letter. They held their 
religious service ; they went through the form of a trial ; and 
then they took Naboth* and his sons to the common place 
of execution, and stoned them to death, leaving their bodies 

* 2 Kings ix., 26. 

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Naboth*s Vineyard. 151 

to be devoured by the wild dogs which prowled after night- 
fall in and around the city. Then they sent and told Jeze- 
bel that her orders had been obeyed. 

She received the news with undisguised satisfaction. It 
was nothing to her that God*s name had been profaned ; that 
religion had been dishonored; that justice had been out- 
raged ; or that innocent blood had been shed. She had ob- 
tained her object ; for the property of those condemned to 
death for blasphemy reverted to the crown ; and she hasten- 
ed to carry the good tidings to her husband. "Arise ; take 
possession of the vineyard of Naboth, the Jezreelite, which 
he refused to give thee for money : for Naboth is not alive, 
but dead." 

One might have thought that Ahab would have expressed 
some condemnation of this awful conspiracy, culminating in 
such a tragic horror ! But no. Like many in modern times, 
though he was restrained by his conscience from committing 
murder himself, he had no scruple in availing himself of the 
results of such a crime when perpetrated by another. He 
flattered himself that though he had no hand in Naboth's 
death, he might, as well as another, " receive the benefit of 
his dying." So, summoning Jehu and Bidkar to accompany 
him, he drove down from Samaria to Jezreel, and was with 
them in his newly obtained vineyard, when Elijah struck 
terror into his heart by the words which we have already 

When he heard the Tishbite's withering denunciation, fear 
and trembling gat hold upon him. His conscience, never 
fully asleep, woke into stinging activity, and he cried out, in 
horror, " Hast thou found me, O mine enemy ?" To which 
Elijah replied, with all his ancient valor, "I have found thee : 
because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of 
the Lord. Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take 
away thy posterity, and will make thine house like the house 

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152 Elijah the Prophet. 

of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha 
the son of Ahijali, for the provocation wherewith thou hast 
provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin. And of Jez- 
ebel also spake the Lord, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel 
by the wall of Jezreel. Him that dieth of Ahab in the city 
the dogs shall eat ; and him that dieth in the field shall the 
fowls of the air eat." These words, not forgotten for nearly 
twenty years by Jehu, who merely overheard them,* sunk 
like lead into the heart of Ahab, and took from him all the 
joy of his new possession, so " that he rent his clothes, and 
put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sack- 
cloth, and went softly." There was yet some sense of jus- 
tice in him ; and these outward symbols of sorrow were not 
hypocritical. He did not feign the feelings of which they 
were the signs. He was humiliated. He was sad. If it 
had been to be done again, he would not have allowed Na- 
both to be put to death. For so much let us give him credit. 
But though his repentance was sincere, so far as it went, yet 
it did not go far enough. He feared the punishment of his 
sin more than he hated the sin itself. There was no word of 
restitution. There was no change in the general current of 
his life. Yet, to show his gentleness unto him, and to give 
him another opportunity of coming to his full self, by return- 
ing wholly to his God, Jehovah said unto his servant, " Seest 
thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me ? because he 
humbleth himself before me, I will not bring the evil in his 
days : but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his 

And the evil did come ! Let us complete the record by 
noting how it came, and when. As to Ahab himself: en- 
tering into league with Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah and 
father-in-law of his daughter, he met his old Syrian enemies 

^' 2 Kings ix., 25. 

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Naboth's Vineyard. 153 

at Ramotli - gilead, where, though he disguised himself, a 
randoiii arrow mortally wounded him, so that his chariot 
was filled with blood. They took the body to Samaria. And 
one washed the chariot at the pool of Samaria, and the dogs 
licked up his blood.* As to Ahaziah, the son of Ahab, we 
shall come upon the record of his death in our next lecture.f 
As to Joram, the brother of Ahaziah, we read that Jehu, 
immediately after his anointing by Elisha, conspired against 
him, and went to Jezreel, where Joram lay sick of wounds 
which he had received in battle ; that there, suspecting per- 
haps some evil, Joram rose and went out to meet Jehu in 
this very vineyard of Naboth, where Jehu slew him. J As to 
Jezebel, we learn§ that, immediately after the slaughter of 
Joram, Jehu caused her to be thrown out of a window of 
her ivory palace, so that she died ; and her body, being left 
neglected, was eaten up by dogs. As to the seventy sons of 
Ahab — we learn || that they, too, fell under Jehu's avenging 
and relentless sword ; " fpr he slew all that remained of the 
house of Ahab, in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his 
kinsfolk, and his priests, until he left him none remaining." 
There was much of human passion and cruel policy in all 
this, for which Jehu himself, as a free agent, was condemned 
and punished ; but yet in and through it all the Lord was 
carrying out his own retributive providence, that men might 
know that his justice slumbereth not. The mill of God 
grinds slowly, but it grinds to powder ; and though his judg- 
ments have leaden heels, they have iron hands. 

There is much in this old chronicle of sin and doom 
which it may profit us to ponder. Let me try to bring out 
of it some present day lessons of warning and admonition. 

We are reminded by the incidents which have been before 

* I Kings xxii., 38. t 2 Kings i. J Ibid, ix., 14-27. 

§ 2 Kings ix., 33. || Ibid. x. 


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154 Elijah the Prophet. 

us of the important principle that happiness consists, not in 
having, but in being. Here was Ahab on the throne of Is- 
rael, with every comfort and luxury which wealth and rank 
could confer, yet hankering after more, and, when that was 
denied him, filled with the bitterest mortification! The 
blessings which he already possessed were forgotten in the 
misery which was produced within him by the refusal of Na- 
both to let him have his vineyard. His disappointment 
over that one little thing cast a shadow on all the great mer- 
cies which he already enjoyed, and this little dead fly made 
the whole pot of his precious ointment unsavory. Nor is 
this a solitary instance. See that haughty Persian in his 
splendid house ! He has just come from the imperial palace 
where he has been banqueting with the king and queen ; 
and in the pride of his heart he has called his wife and 
children round him, that he might recount to them the hon- 
ors with which he had been loaded. He tells of his riches, 
and his promotion above all others at the court, and how the 
queen had allowed no one to come with the king unto her 
banquet but himself, and had given him a special invitation 
for the following day. Then, as he thinks of his emergence 
fi-om the palace, and remembers that the stiff-backed Jewish 
porter at the gate refused to make obeisance to him as he 
passed, all the gladness vanishes from his countenance, and 
a scowl of unutterable hatred darkens on his features as 
he adds, " Yet all this availeth me nothing so long as I see 
Mordecai sitting at the king's gate." How many even to- 
day are letting their lives be darkened because some Na- 
both denies them a vineyard, or some Mordecai will not sa- 
lute them ! They forget that, even if they had the things 
which they so long for, happiness would be as far from them 
as ever, and some new object would take the place of their 
old grievance. They do lack one thing. But that one thing 
is not external to them, but within them. They lack a new 

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Naboth's Vineyard. 155 

heart, and until they get that they can have no abiding sat- 
isfaction. "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst 
again."* You may write these words over every fountain of 
external possession. No matter what a man has, if he have 
not a happy and contented spirit, he will be craving for some- 
thing else ; and as soon as he gets that, it will lose its charm 
for him, so that he will sigh again for something more. But 
this thirst is not so much a disease in itself as it is the symp- 
tom of that inner fever which is consuming the soul. To 
gratify the thirst, therefore, will not at all touch the seat of 
the malady. The soul must have peace imparted to it ; and 
then the thirst will subside. Now, it is just this that Christ 
promises to do for us and in us by his renewing Spirit 
Hence he says, " Whosoever drinketh of the water that I 
shall give him, shall never thirst, but the water that I shall 
give him shall be in him a well of water springing up unto 
everlasting life."t The renewed man shall have a fountain 
of happiness within himself; and will not depend on exter- 
nal circumstances or earthly possessions foi his joy. His 
Lord will be to him better than a thousand vineyards ; and 
the approbation of Christ will be of more value to him than 
the obeisance of any Mordecai. Perhaps there is here to- 
night some melancholy one, whose spirit is soured by reason 
of some worldly disappointment, or some lack of that appre- 
ciation to which he fancies he is fairly entitled. Let me en- 
treat him not to misunderstand his own case. These feel- 
ings are but the cryings out of your heart and flesh for the 
living God. They are the thirstings of your soul for that 
which can be found alone in him. Turn, then, and seek 
your all from him and in him. "Wherefore do ye spend 
hioney for that which is not bread ? and your labor for that 
which satisfieth not ? Hearken diligently unto him, and let 

* John iv., 13. t John iv., 14. 

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156 Elijah the Prophet. 

your soul delight itself in fatness : incline yo'ur ear and come 
unto him ; hear, and your soul shall live." 

But we are reminded here, also, of the evil of unhallowed 
alliances. But for Jezebel, Ahab had not subjected himself 
to this dreadful doom. In this scene, more than in any oth- 
er of their hist^, we see the distinctive character of each. 
Ahab was ambitious ; he was brave ; he had in him many 
elements of nobleness, and was not the weakling that many 
have portrayed him. Where his conscience was clean, too, 
he could be bold. But he was less daring and decided in 
evil than Jezebel, just because he had more conscience than 
she. This kept him both from the full enjoyment of the 
world, and from the invention of such diabolic plans as 
that which Jezebel laid on the present occasion. He was, 
indeed, bitterly mortified by Naboth's refusal to grant his 
request ; but there is no evidence that he would ever have 
thought of murdering Naboth to get his vineyard ; while his 
cry of anguish to Elijah, " Hast thou found me, O mine ene- 
my ?" shows that his conscience was quick to respond to the 
admonition of the prophet. Now, if, at the moment of his 
disappointment, he had been blessed with a godly wife, she 
would have led him to think of the comforts which he al- 
ready possessed, and, far from setting herself to acquire for 
him the object of his desire by unlawful means, she would 
have urged him to seek his happiness in something nobler 
than the vineyard of his neighbor. As it was, however, Jez- 
ebel added the guilt of conspiracy and murder to that of 
covetousness ; and so their names have come down to us 
stained with the infamy of a deed which has few parallels 
for cruel injustice and cold-blooded malignity. When he 
wedded her, he thought only of the glory of his Zidonian al-* 
liance, and the strengthening of his hands against his Syrian 
foes ; but now she makes him participator in a crime which 
drew down the curse of extermination on his house, and poi- 

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Naboth's Vineyard. 157 

soned the happiness of his remaining years upon the earth. 
Thus the very means which he used to secure the glory of 
his kingdom and the permanence of his dynasty proved the 
ruin of both. 

How often, alas ! in humbler instances have similar results 
followed a similar course 1 Dazzled with the glitter of a fort- 
une, or the glare of an exalted position, a young person en- 
ters into the sacred alliance of matrimony with one who has 
no moral stability or Christian excellence, and the issue is 
certain misery, with the probable addition of crime and dis- 
aster. For in such an intimate union there can not but be 
a constant influence exerted by the one upon the other ; and 
if it should happen that the greater decision of character is 
with the less scrupulous of the two, then both together shall 
descend to depths of wickedness of which, at first, the more 
worthy had not dreamed. For weal or for woe, for eternity 
as well as for time, few things are more important in a man's 
or woman's history than the matrimonial connection which 
may be made ; and yet with what thoughtlessness and fri- 
volity too often is that connection formed ! It is a thing for 
joking and buffoonery ; or, perhaps, a matter of worldly wis- 
dom or convenience ; whereas it ought to be entered into "only 
in the Lord." Let the young people before me prayerfully 
ponder this important lesson ; and let them resolve that when- 
soever they take this solemn step, it shall not be " lightly or 
unadvisedly," but " soberly, discreetly, and in the fear of God." 

We are reminded, thirdly, of the perversion which an evil 
heart makes of religious knowledge. One can not read this 
narrative without observing how minutely Jezebel was ac- 
quainted with the requirements of the Mosaic law. She 
knew that blasphemy was punishable with death, and that 
only at the mouth of two or three witnesses could any one 
be condemned ; and so, while professing great abhorrence 
of the sin which she falsely imputed to Naboth, she used her 

Digitized by 


158 Elijah the Prophet. 

knowledge of the Books of Moses for the purpose of-putting 
a fair judicial face on her murderous deed. As in modern 
times we have seen men employ their knowledge of law in 
such a way as to outwit the law itself, so she complied with 
the outward forms of justice, that she might give a righteous 
color to her unrighteous proceeding ! And then, how sick- 
ening to think of her, a votary of Baal, proclaiming a fast 
because some one had blasphemed God ! The Spaniards 
have a proverb somewhat to this effect, " When the serpent 
straightens himself, it is that he may go into his hole." So 
when the unscrupulous suddenly manifest some punctilious 
regard for legal forms or for religious observances, you may 
be sure that they are after mischief. Some of the blackest 
crimes that have ever been committed have been perpetrated 
through the forms of law, or under the color of religion. Is 
it not true that " the heart is deceitful above all things and 
desperately wicked ?" and are we not forcibly impressed with 
the fact that no one is so daringly defiant in wickedness as 
he who knows the truth and disregards it ? Mere knowledge 
never yet saved any one from ruin ; for if the heart be per- 
verted, every thing that enters the head is only made sub- 
servient to its iniquity. Your educated villains are all the 
more dangerous because of their education ; and among god- 
less men they are the most to be dreaded who have an intel- 
ligent acquaintance with the Word of God. Let us not rest, 
therefore^ in our knowledge of the contents of this book, as 
if that were all that is required ; for, unless we believe its 
statements and obey its precepts, our acquaintance with them 
will only increase our wickedness and aggravate our guilt. 
The Bible believed will be to us the richest of blessings; 
but disbelieved and disregarded, it will become to us the 
blackest of curses. Take heed, therefore, lest it should be 
to you as a millstone round your neck to sink you to the 
lowest depths of perdition. 

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Naboth's Vineyard. 159 

We are reminded, fourthly, of the price which we have to 
pay for sin. What weighty words are these of Elijah to 
Ahab, " Thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of 
the Lord." They imply not only that Ahab had given him- 
self entirely over to iniquity, but also that he had done so 
at the price of himself. The great German poet has elabo- 
rated this thought into that weird production wherein he 
represents his hero as selling his soul to the mocking Meph- 
istopheles. And it were well that every evil-doer laid to 
heart the moral of his tragic tale. That which the sinner 
gives for his unhallowed pleasure or dishonest gain is him- 
self. Consider it well. O drunkard ! you thought that you 
paid for your dissipation when you laid out your money on 
the counter of Boniface ; but, bad as that was, there is an- 
other and far longer reckoning behind. You sold your 
senses into inactivity; your intellect into stupidity; your con- 
science into insensibility; your character into weakness; 
your business into bankruptcy ; nay, if you continue in your 
dreadful habit, you will sell your life on earth, and your 
everlasting salvation, too. The bill may be drawn at a long 
date ; but it will come due, and when it comes, you will be 
held inexorably to your bond. All this is the price ; and for 
what? oh, for what? For a temporary exhilaration, to be 
followed by a degradation to a level lower than that of the 
brutes that perish ! 

O sensualist ! when you left the haunt of wickedness, you 
fancied that you had done with cost ; but no ! You sold 
the purity of your nature, the honor of your manhood, the 
tenderness of your conscience, the health of your body, and 
the life of your soul. In one express word, you sold yourself, 
and that self, if you repent not, for eternity. All these were 
in the bond you sealed when you entered on your course 
of iniquity; and if you persist in it, no Shylock will hold 
you with a more remorseless grasp than he to whom you 

"Digitized by 


i6o Elijah the Prophet. 

have given it. Hear it, too, thou dishonest trader ! who 
thinkest to enrich thyself by preying upon others. In the 
cant phraseology of an unscrupulous age thou boastest that 
thou hast sold thy victims ; but thou hast only sold thyself. 
Only thyself! Ah, but that is every thing. Thou hast 
given thy character, thy reputation, thy time, thy talents, 
thy souFs salvation, all for a few glittering coins, which, 
after all, thou must leave behind thee when thy body dies ! 
And this thou callest a shrewd, sharp transaction ! Oh, 
how thou art outwitted by the cunning Mephistopheles, who 
laughs at thine undoing ! Go to, ye blinded dupes ! and 
seek to unlearn this false philosophy, this unequal barter, 
this suicidal folly. You are selling yourselves in the mar- 
ket of iniquity for the veriest trifles, even as the savage bar- 
ters whole islands for a few glittering beads. If ye will 
make commerce of yourselves, then sit down first and count 
the cost, as you try to solve thi^ infinitely momentous ques- 
tion, " What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole 
world, and lose his own soul ? Or what shall a man give in 
exchange for his soul ?" 

We are reminded here, fifthly, of the curse which attends 
ill-gotten gains. Jezebel thought that by her cunning man- 
agement she had obtained Naboth's vineyard for nothing ; 
but it cost her very dear. It entailed upon her the loss of 
her husband and of her sons, and resulted ultimately in her 
own destruction. God is not indifferent to evil, though he 
do not interfere by miracle to prevent its commission. It 
might have seemed, indeed, that his moral government was 
a delusion when such a one as Naboth was permitted to be 
slain by the emissaries of Jezebel's malignity ; and one can 
sympathize as he looks on such injustice with the complaint 
of Asaph : "Behold, these are the ungodly who prosper in the 
world ; they increase in riches. Verily I have cleansed my 
heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency." But 

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Naboth's Vineyard. i6i 

when we widen our range of observation, we discover that 
for all such dishonesty and oppression there is, even in this 
life, a terrible retribution. The gains of ungodliness are 
weighted with the curse of God ; and, sooner or later, that 
will be made apparent. Let no one think that because this 
record is in the Bible, and the fearful doom upon Ahab and 
his house was pronounced by Elijah, therefore there must be 
a difference between it and any modern instance of deliber- 
ate wrong-doing and injustice. For the moral government 
of God to-day is administered on the same principles as 
those which we find underlying this narrative. True, the 
dishonest man now pursuing his purposes in secret may have 
no Elijah sent to him, with the special commission to declare 
to him the sort of punishment which shall overtake him ; 
but Elijah's God is living yet, and one has only to open his 
eyes, and mark the progress of events from year to year to 
be convinced that " sorrow tracketh wrong, as echo follows 
song — on, on, on." He who holds gain by injustice will, 
sooner or later, come to ruin ; and, if no restitution is made, 
they who inherit from him his blood-stained gold will be 
made sharers of his calamity. Let a man rudely trample 
upon the weak, and take by violence that to which he has 
no right, and it will cost him much ; for the judgment of 
God is already on the way to him, and though it tarry long, 
it will fall heavily when it comes. Let a nation covet its 
neighbor's territory, and by force or fraud annex it to its 
own, then, though no Elijah come specifically to denounce 
it, the issue must be disastrous, and may be fraught with evil 
to many generations. " Be sure your sin will find you out," 
said Moses, on a solemn day, to the two and a half tribes 
that remained on the other side of Jordan ; and it seems to 
me that few truths need to be more faithfully proclaimed in 
the ears of this generation. They dwell with much unction 
on the love and tenderness of God ; and if they but took in 

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1 62 Elijah the Prophet. 

the whole truth, they could not dwell too much upon it ; but 
they forget the judicial aspect of Jehovah's character, and 
the awfully terrible nature of some of his retributions. It 
is no kindness, however, to keep these things out of view. 
God's government is retributive, and the wrong- doer must 
one day confront the wrong that he has done ; nay, must 
confront the avenging God, who comes to reckon with him 
for the wrong. He may meet him in some desolating stroke 
of his providence ; but he must meet him on his judgment- 
throne ; and if the sight of the servant of Jehovah .so ap- 
palled Ahab that he cried out with trembling, " Hast thou 
found me, O mine enemy ?" need we wonder if, as he gazes 
on the great white throne, he is impelled to cry to the mount- 
ains and rocks, " Fall on me, and hide me from the face of 
him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the 
Lamb, for the great day of his wrath is come ; and who shall 
be able to stand ?" 

Finally — for I may not conclude in this terrific strain — 
we are reminded here of the tenderness of God toward the 
penitent. Ahab was filled with bitter regret at what had 
been done, and God, who will not break the bruised reed or 
quench the smoking flax, said that the evil should not come 
in his day. He thus gave him another opportunity of be- 
coming truly repentant. This, so far as appears from the 
narrative, Ahab did not improve ; still, that God should have 
given it to him is an encouragement to the real penitent to 
come to Jehovah's feet ; while the fact that he did not really 
and truly repent, after all, is a warning to the trembling pro- 
crastinator that, unless he avail himself of his present tender- 
ness of feeling, he may never attain salvation. If God were 
so considerate of Ahab, the idolater, the murderer, the thief, 
will he not regard thee, O thou tearful one ! who art be- 
moaning the number and aggravation of thy sins ? Go, then, 
to him ; and let this be thine encouragement : " Let the 

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Naboth's Vineyard. 163 

wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his 
thoughts : and let him return unto the Lord, and he will 
have mercy upon him ; and to our God, for he will abundant- 
ly pardon." But go at once ; for if, after all this feeling on 
Ahab*s part, his repentance was yet only temporary, and he 
perished at last, how knowest thou that it may not be so 
with thee if thou delay ? Felix trembled before Paul, as 
Ahab did here before Elijah ; and yet he, too, went no fur- 
ther. Agrippa was almost persuaded ; but the " almost " nev- 
er became the " altogether." Let these beacons on the roar- 
ing reef of procrastination warn thee of thy danger. Let the 
feeling of this moment stiffen into the principle of thy life. 
Let thy repentance be no mere regret for sin, but a loving 
and immediate acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as the 
Saviour of thy soul and the Lord of thy life. "To-day, if 
thou wilt hear his voice, harden not thy heart." 

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2 Kings j. 

BETWEEN Elijah's interview with Ahab in the vineyard 
of Naboth, and his intercepting of Ahaziah's messen- 
gers on their way to Ekron, a period of at least three or four 
years must have elapsed. During that interval several events 
of national importance occurred. In particular, Ahab, form- 
ing a league with Jehoshaphat, attacked the Syrians at Ra- 
moth-gileadj but the result, as Micaiah had foretold, had 
been fraught with disaster ; for Ahab was slain, and the Syr- 
ians were left masters of the field. 

The death of Ahab had been followed by the accession of 
his son Ahaziah, who had proved himself to be the inheritor 
of his father's character as well as of his position ; for " he 
did evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of 
his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of 
Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin ; for he 
served Baal, and worshiped him, and provoked to anger the 
Lord God of Israel, according to all that his father had 

He came to the kingdom when it was weakened, and the 
people were dispirited, by the recent Syrian defeat ; and the 
first thing he had to do was to encounter a rebellion of the 
Moabites, who took advantage of the national exhaustion, 
and broke away from the bondage of tribute under which 
they had been held by Omri and Ahab. Under the brief 
reign of Ahaziah, they were not able completely to regain 

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Fire from Heaven. 165 

their independence, but they thoroughly effected their eman- 
cipation in the days of Jehoram, his brother and successor, 
as described at length in the third chapter of 2 Kings. Very 
recently an interesting light has been thrown on this chapter 
of ancient history by the discovery of the Moabite Stone, 
which was found by the Rev. F. A. Klein, in 1868, at the en- 
trance to the ruined city of Dibon, and which was a monu- 
mental record of the successful rebellion of Mesha, king of 
Moab, against the king of Israel after a forty years* oppres- 
sion by the house of Omri. 

In neither of these times of war, however, does Elijah 
come into prominence. His mission had not to do so much 
with the relation of Israel to the surrounding nations as with 
the reformation of the tribes themselves. The department 
of work which had been committed to him was religious 
rather than political. He was more concerned for the char- 
acter of the people than for the extent of the nation's ter- 
ritory or the amount of tribute paid by its dependencies. 
Hence all his appearances had for their object the destruc- 
tion of some prevailing iniquity, like the worship of Baal ; or 
the denunciation of Some flagrant wrong, like the robbery 
and murder of Naboth. There were other prophets in the 
land who took note of the doings of the king or of the peo- 
ple in their conflicts with other nations. Thus, when Ahab 
let Ben-hadad slip out of his hands, an unnamed messen- 
ger was sent to rebuke him ; and when, again, he was to be 
warned of his danger at Ramoth-gilead, Micaiah was com- 
missioned for that special purpose. Nor is it without sig- 
nificance, as an incidental proof of the effect which Elijah^s 
ministry had produced, that there were now in the land men 
of God who were willing to go to prison, or even to death, 
rather than prophesy lies in Jehovah's name. But still, 
when sin in high quarters was to be exposed, or sentence 
against evil executed, Elijah was the minister to whom such 

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1 66 Elijah the Prophet. 

work was intrusted. Thus we account for his appearance 
on the occasion described in the chapter which now lies be- 
fore us for exposition. 

Ahaziah, while walking on the roof of his palace, leaned 
incautiously on the frail banister of wicker-work which form- 
ed its only protection on the inner side, and as that gave 
way under his weight, he was precipitated to the court be- 
neath, and seriously injured. In his weakness and alarm, 
he sent some of his servants to Ekron, the most northern of 
the five Philistine towns, where Baal-zebub, the god of flies, 
was worshiped; and where, in connection with that idoPs 
temple, there was one of those oracles which, in response to 
the inquiries of liberal devotees, gave out "flattering ambi- 
guities " that, from their double or doubtful meaning, could 
not be falsified by any event. This action of Ahaziah's was 
a contemptuous ignoring of the claims of Jehovah upon him, 
and an evidence that he had withdrawn conclusively from 
the service of him from whom, as the King of Israel, he de- 
rived his authority, and to whom the whole allegiance of his 
heart and life was due. But as, when Saul went to consult 
a familiar spirit, God sent Samuel himself to confront him, 
to the dismay both of the witch herself and of the abandon- 
ed monarch, so now again, when Ahaziah sends to Ekron, 
the Lord commissions Elijah to intercept his messengers, 
and to give them an answer to their inquiries, not in vague 
and oracular phraseology, but in words of unmistakable 
meaning and tremendous force : "Is it not because there is 
not a God in Israel that ye go to inquire of Baal-zebub, the 
god of Ekron ? Now, therefore, saith Jehovah, Thou shalt 
not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, 
but shalt surely die." This message given, the prophet, with 
characteristic suddenness, disappeared ; and the servants of 
the king, deeming their journey to Ekron now unnecessary, 
returned and reported the Tishbite's words to their master. 

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Fire from Heaven. 167 

When he heard their account, accompanied with a de- 
scription of the appearance of him who had so strangely in- 
tercepted him, the king knew at once that Elijah had been 
with them; and his heart was filled with bitterest enmity 
and fiercest rage. One might have supposed that after he 
had learned on such authority that he was so soon to die, he 
would have begun " to set his house in order," and would 
have given some serious thought to the future life on which 
he was about to enter. But no ! His sole concern seems 
to have been to get Elijah into his power, that he might de- 
stroy him for what he deemed to be his impertinent inter- 
ference with his messengers to Ekron. He fell into the mis- 
take of supposing that he had to do with Elijah, rather than 
with Elijah's God, and flattered himself that if he could only 
silence the Tishbite, he had no one else to fear. Therefore, 
instead of turning in penitence to Jehovah, he turns in fury 
against the prophet. As the heathen Xerxes is said to have 
scourged the Hellespont, because its waves, in the violence 
of a storm, swept away his bridge j forgetting that *he had 
to do with Him whom the winds and the sea obey; so 
Ahaziah took no note of Jehovah, whose servant Elijah was. 
The matter seemed to him to be only between him and the 
Tishbite, and not at all between him and the omnipotent 
God. And yet the means which he took for the apprehen- 
sion of Elijah indicate that he feared hirp more than he did 
an ordinary man ; for he sent a company of fifty soldiers, 
with their captain, to take him. We are not a little sur- 
prised at this, for, as Bishop Hall has pithily remarked, *•' If 
he had not thought Elijah more than a man, what needed a 
band of fifty men to apprehend him ? and if he did think 
him such, why would he send to apprehend him by fifty ?"* 
The probability is, however, that he looked upon the prophet 

* ** Contemplations," as before, p. 304. 

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1 68 Elijah the Prophet. 

as belonging to the class of wizards, or magicians, who had 
hidden resources of power which rendered them dangerous 
to single adversaries, and so he took this plan of overmas- 
tering him by a formidable array of numbers. But if this 
were so, he had miserably miscalculated ; for when the mili- 
tary company were ascending the hill at the top of which Eli- 
jah had his retreat, and the captain called jeeringly to him, 
" Thou man of God, the king hath said. Come down !" he 
made reply, " If I be a man of God, then let fire come down 
from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty ;" and forthwith 
they were destroyed by the flaming bolt of the divine venge- 
ance. No one of them survived to tell what had happened to 
the rest ; but, somehow, either by report spreading out from 
the immediate neighborhood, or by the result of inquiries 
which he himself had caused to be made, the king learned 
what had happened ; and, instead of humbling himself at this 
new manifestation of the power of God, he sent another com- 
pany of fifty with another captain, who were also consumed 
in like manner. Undeterred even by this repetition of the 
disaster, he sent a third company with a third captain. But 
this time the messengers were not in sympathy with their 
message ; for, instead of approaching with a contemptuous 
sneer, and cynical defiance, as the others had done, this 
officer and his men drew near with reverence. When they 
called Elijah a man of God, they recognized the dignity that 
belonged to his office, and the protection that encircled it ; 
and their leader made this humble request : " O man of God, 
I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty, thy serv- 
ants, be precious in thy sight. Behold, there came fire down 
from heaven, and burnt up the two captains of the former 
fifties : therefore let my life now be precious in thy sight." 
This was a different spirit from that which the former com- 
panies had manifested ; so at the suggestion of the angel of 
the covenant, who had been mysteriously present with him 

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Fire from Heaven. 169 

as his guardian all the while, the prophet went with the sol- 
diers to the palace, and was ushered into the bed-chamber 
of the king. 

But the presence of monarchy did not in any way discom- 
pose Elijah, or cause him to abate one iota of the message 
which he had already delivered to his servants. It was a 
singular occasion, and the whole scene stands out before the 
eye of the imagination with weird and wonderful distinct- 
ness. There lies the wounded monarch, writhing in his pain, 
and cowering before the. fiery glance of the stern Tishbite's 
eye. He could send his soldiers to take him prisoner, but 
he could not meet that gaze. Around him are his courtiers 
and his counselors, all amazed at the undaunted courage 
of the unarmed prophet, who comes to introduce into that 
presence the grim ememy who is not only the king of terrors, 
but also the terror of kings. He has no word of counsel ; 
no message of consolation ; no prophecy of deliverance. 
He stands, like Daniel, reading off from the wall the dread 
handwriting of remorseless doom : " Thou shalt not come 
down from off that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt 
surely die ;" and then, ere yet any one has recovered from 
the startled awe which his words produced, he passes out 
from the palace, never again to be seen within its portals. 
Nor was his denunciation vain ; for it came to pass as he 
had said, and Ahaziah died, the second of that long list of 
victims who fell before the march of God^s justice in its 
course of retribution for Jezebel's murder and robbery of 

This portion of the sacred narrative, like those over which 
we have already passed, is rich in suggestive lessons which 
are full of living interest and present importance, and we 
shall do well to pause a while, and gather them up for our 
warning and instruction. 

Observe, then, in the first place, that we do not escape 


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170 Elijah the Prophet. 

from God by running away from him. Ahaziah perhaps 
imagined that, by betaking himself to Baal-zebub, he was 
taking sure means to evade all danger from Jehovah. It 
was easy for him, comparatively speaking, to shut God out 
of his heart, and to cut himself off from the number of those 
who professed to believe in him, ^nd render him obedience ; 
but he could not thus put himself beyond the pale of God's 
government, or place himself outside of the sphere of God's 
providence. If he will send his messengers to Ekron, the 
Lord has his Elijah ready to confront them with his sentence 
of doom. The sinner can not get anywhere away from God. 
This is as true to-day as it was in the times to which this 
history refers. Men may repudiate all faith in these sacred 
books j they may deify natural laws ; they may worship phi- 
losophy or science ; they may even adopt the dark negation 
of the atheist's creed ; but they can not, after all, eliminate 
themselves from the domain of his government, or the circle 
of his providence. True, he has no miraculously commis- 
sioned prophet now to intercept them in their foolish at- 
tempts, as the stern Tishbite turned back the servants of 
Ahaziah; but he confronts them still in ways at once nu- 
merous and striking. There is conscience, that Elijah in the 
breast, to whose voice of expostulation and reproof he gives 
point and power. There is temporal calamity, with its les- 
son of arrest, as it brings men up, and makes them think of 
something mightier than mere natural law or human skill. 
There is family bereavement, as it turns them back from all 
their cherished purposes and cunning schemes, and bids 
them forecast the future of this earthly life. There is per- 
sonal affliction, as it lays its subduing hand upon them, and 
makes them pause midway in their earthly pursuits, and 
compels them to reflect upon the time when they shall be 
taken away from every thing that interests and occupies 
their minds in this present state of being. There is death, 

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Fire from Heaven. 171 

that mysterious visitant that comes ever unbidden, and tears 
them away from all their occupations, no matter how unfin- 
ished they may be, or how much they may desire to con- 
tinue at them. These are God's Elijahs now, coming often 
upon men with the lightning swiftness that characterized the 
Tishbite's appearances, and thundering in their ears words 
of doom as awful as those which the prophet hurled at the 
heads of Ahab and his son. No captain and his fifty can 
apprehend these agents of God's government and provi- 
dence. No money can bribe them into harmlessness ; no 
power can bind them into impotence ; no eminence can over- 
awe them into subjection. The sinner can find no place on 
this wide earth where he will be exempt from their intrusion. 
Go where he will, he can not go where God is not. He may 
shut his eyes to the truth of his existence ; but he can not 
thereby secure himself from the visit of his messengers. He 
may occupy his thoughts with other subjects, but he does 
not thereby deliver himself from liability to the afflictive dis- 
pensations of his providence. 

These things come upon the unbeliever as on other men. 
The only difference is that the believer, when they come 
to him, sees in them, not the messengers of judgment, but 
the ministers of grace ; and is supported under them by the 
strength of unfaltering trust in him who has declared that 
" all things work together for good to them who love him 
who are the called according to his purpose." To the child 
of God these dispensations come as Elijah did to the widow 
of Zarephath, and they end in making him praise anew the 
mercy which kept the handful of meal from wasting, and the 
cruse of oil from failing. To the ungodly they come as Eli- 
jah did to Ahab, when, in the vineyard of Naboth, the king 
cried out, " Hast thou found me, O mine enemy ?" But to 
both, these Tishbites come sooner or later. Behold, then, 
how foolish the unbeliever is ! He does not, he can not, 

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1^2 Elijah the Prophet. 

get rid of trouble. The utmost he accomplishes is to deprive 
himself of that divine alchemy within the soul which changes 
trial into blessing. He has the ache of conscience, but 
he will not accept that Saviour who alone can remove that 
stinging pain. He has the endurance of temporal calamity, 
but he will have none of him, who, in time of money panic 
and bankruptcy, can sustain him with the assurance of his 
support. He has the bitterness of bereavement, but he will 
not accept the tender ministrations of that divine Redeemer 
who says, " Weep not. I am the resurrection and the life." 
He has to taste of death, but he shuts his soul against the 
entrance of him who alone can enable him to say, " O death, 
where is thy sting. O grave, where is thy victor}' ?" What, 
then, is the gain of running away from God? Gain .^ ah! 
it is tremendous loss. O ye, who are worshiping at the 
shrines of the world's Baal-zebubs, bethink ye what ye do 
when ye thus turn your backs upon Jehovah-Jesus ; and let 
me to-night, in mercy to you, intercept you on t*he way to 
Ekron. Is there no God here, that you should seek to fill 
your souls with, unsatisfying husks, which can give you no 
delight? What will philosophy, or science, or, wealth, or 
honor, or position do for you in the day when these great 
agoTiies to which I have referred are on you ? Turn ye, turn 
ye, from that cheerless path, and seek your life and joy in 
him who is the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Observe, in the second place, that terrible judgment is 
sure to overtake them that persistently and defiantly reject 
the Lord. I refer here not so much to the circumstances of 
Ahaziah's death (though, taken in connection with Elijah's 
prediction to Ahab, they, too, might illustrate my position) 
as to the destruction by fire from heaven of the two captains 
with their fifties. It has been supposed, indeed, that the Sav- 
iour's reference to this portion of the Tishbite's history, when, 
in answer to the question of James and John as to the Sa- 

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Fire from Heaven. 173 

maritans, "Wilt thou that we' command fire to come down 
from heaven and consume them even as Elias did ?" he said, 
"Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of;" and added, 
" The Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to 
save them,"* was a virtual condemnation of the course pur- 
sued by the prophet. But this is an entire mistake, and 
arises from a superficial perusal, both of the history on which 
we have been commenting, and of the words' of the Lord 
which I have just quoted. For, in the first place, though the 
fire came at the word of the prophet, it was Jehovah that 
sent it ; and we can not suppose that Jesus would brand any 
thing which the Eternal Father did with his reprobation. 

Further, the words, " Ye know not what spirit ye are of," 
are not a condemnation of Elijah, but a reproof addressed 
to his disciples. He did not mean to say that the Tishbite 
was actuated by an improper spirit ; rather he wished the 
sons of Zebedee to understand that the disposition by which 
they were animated was very different from that which char- 
acterized the prophet. As if he had said : " You think that in 
making the proposal which you have just put before me, you 
are acting in the spirit of Elijah, but in reality you are moved 
by a very different impulse. Elijah was very jealous for the 
Lord God of hosts. He lived and labored to promote the 
honor of Jehovah, and it was solely on that ground that he 
called for the fire which came with its destructive stroke at 
his bidding ; but you are only jealous for yourselves. It is 
wounded pride that is speaking now in you : it was righteous 
zeal for the glory of his Lord that flashed forth in the com- 
mand of Elijah." 

Others, however, while honestly believing that there is no 
condemnation of Elijah in the words of our Lord, have sup- 
posed that the whole difference between him and the apos- 

* Luke ix., 52-56. 

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174 Elijah the Prophet. 

ties is to be accounted for from the fact that the prophet be- 
longed to the sterner economy of the law, while they were 
under the milder system of the Gospel. And they base this 
opinion on the Saviour's words, " The Son of man is not 
come to destroy men's lives, but to save them." Now, though 
almost every commentator has taken this view, I confess that 
it does not commend itself to my judgment, inasmuch as I 
can not see that God's dealings with hardened and defiant 
sinners are anywise different under the Gospel from that 
which they were under the law. To them who receive it 
the Gospel brings peace ; but to those who, against light and 
entreaty, persistently reject it, there is judgment. In the one, 
the Gospel minister is to God a savor of life unto life ; in 
the other, a savor of death unto death ; and we can not get 
rid of the fact that to those who trample underfoot the Son 
of God, the darkness of Calvary is a thousand -fold more 
terrible than were the thunders of Sinai. The Samaritans 
who would not accept Jesus had only then for the first time 
heard of him ; and their rejection of him was the result of 
ignorance. It was no time, therefore, to move for their de- 
struction j but when the Jews refused, with determined per- 
tinacity, to accept the Lord, and would have none of his sal- 
vation, what happened to them ? Read the prediction of our 
Lord upon the Mount, then peruse the account of its fulfill- 
ment in the destruction of Jerusalem, as that is given by Jo- 
sephus, and tell me if it is not vastly more appalling in its 
aspect of judgment than the description given here of the 
striking-down of these two captains and their fifties. Yet 
all that was under the Gospel dispensation. Therefore the 
death of these men is not to be explained merely by the 
fact that they lived under the so-called stern economy of 
the law. 

. The simple truth is, that they were hardened and defiant 
in their rejection of Jehovah as the covenant God of Israel. 

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Fire from Heaven. 175 

They knew better than to have sneered at Elijah as they 
did. It was not so very long since the day of the Carmel 
controversy, and they could not have forgotten the issue of 
it, not only as regards Elijah, but also as regards Jehovah. 
But, like Ahaziah, they had steeled their souls against con- 
viction, and stiffened their hearts against submission, and so 
they were destroyed, not from any rage in the prophet, but 
in righteous retribution for their stubborn refusal to bow be- 
fore Jehovah. But, my hearers, the same law of God's gov- 
ernment holds under the Gospel ; and gracious though it be, 
if we harden our hearts against its acceptance, the same ret- 
ribution, only in a more terrible because eternal form, will 
come upon us. We may not be punished by temporal judg- 
ments, as Israel was with drought and famine ; but if we re- 
pent not, the result will come in "everlasting destruction from 
the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power." 
Read the parable of the pounds in the nineteenth chapter of 
Luke's gospel, and say what mean these words : " But those 
mine enemies which would not that I should reign over them, 
bring hither, and slay them before me." Peruse the epistle 
of Paul to the Thessalonians, and tell me what interpretation 
you can put on such expressions as these : " The Lord Jesus 
shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in 
flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, 
and obey not the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ." Yea, 
fathom for me, if you can, the significance of these words in 
the Book of Revelation, " the wrath of the Lamb." Are not 
all these illustrations of the same law of retribution which 
we have seen to-night at work in the destruction of these sol- 
diers? And do they not all alike declare that if we despise 
the gracious privileges of our present time of probation, and 
refuse to accept of the salvation which comes through be- 
lieving submission to Jehovah, we, too, shall be destroyed ? 
I delight not to dwell on thi^ awful theme ; but love to you. 

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176 Elijah the Prophet. 

as well as faithfulness to my Master, demands that I set it 
fully before you, and beseech you prayerfully to ponder it. 

Observe, in the third place, the mercy that is shown by 
Jehovah to those who penitently and sincerely seek it. The 
third captain and his fifty were spared. Why ? Surely here 
we can not say because they were under the stern dispen- 
sation of the law ; and the right consideration of their case 
will, I think, demonstrate that I am correct in my explana- 
tion of the destruction of the others. They were spared, be- 
cause, convinced that Elijah was really a man of God, and 
that Jehovah was the true God, they came acknowledging 
his authority and suing for mercy. Now, blessed be God's 
name, this law of his government holds still. If we come in 
penitence and faith to him through Jesus Christ, we shall be 
saved. They that truly seek him shall ever surely find him. 
Hence, if the fate of the former fifties be fraught with sol- 
emnest warning, the mercy shown to this captain and his 
men is full of the richest encouragement, and bids us im- 
prove our opportunities of salvation by securing now for- 
giveness and renewal. No matter though we have held out 
against the Lord till the present moment, if now we come 
to him in faith, " he will in no wise cast us out." Oh ! the in- 
finite grace of these precious words, " I will in no wise cast 
out." They mean, " I will receive ; I will retain ; I will eter- 
nally bless." My hearer, let their attraction draw you to a 
speedy acceptance of the grace they offer. 

Observe, finally, the prophet in the chamber of the dying 
monarch ; and notice, by way of contrast, the blessedness of 
the Christian minister at the sinner's death-bed. MacDuff 
and others have drawn a historical parallel between this visit 
of Elijah to Ahaziah, and that of the good Bishop Ken to the 
dying profligate, Charles II., of England, so graphically de- 
scribed in the pages of Macaulay ; but, after all, every Chris- 
tian minister, though required faithfully to unfold the guilt 

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-Fire from Heaven. 


and clanger of the sinner, is commissioned to proclaim par- 
don to the penitent, even though he be standing on the very 
threshold of that world where probation is unknown and 
only retribution rendered. Elijah, however, does nothing but 
read out his sentence of doom. There is no urging to re- 
pentance, as in the case of DanieFs appeal to Nebuchadnez- 
zar. The stern, unbending terror of the announcement of 
the monarch's death is unrelieved by a single qualification. 
God be thanked, it is different now with the minister of 
Christ With the case of the thief on the cross before him, 
he feels himself warranted at every dying sinner's couch to 
preach Christ and his salvation. No matter how degraded 
the poor victim may be; no matter how aggravated may 
have been his guilt, or how terrible his iniquity, "Jesus 
Christ is able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto 
God by him ;" and while the day of grace lasts, and the day 
of life endures, it is the duty, as it is the privilege, of the min- 
ister to point the dying one to the Lamb of God that taketh 
away the sin of the world. I say not this to induce you to put 
off your penitence until your dying hour. I say it rather to 
magnify th^ riches of the grace of God ; and having done that, 
I turn to reason with you in this wise. You admit that faith 
in Jesus Christ, and the peace which flows therefrom, are de- 
sirable things to die with. Let me ask, is it any too soon to 
secure them now? If they are so valuable for the expe- 
rience of a death-bed, they can not but be useful in the exi- 
gencies and emergencies of daily life. Besides, how know 
you that you shall have a death-bed at all ? You see from 
Ahaziah's case how brittle is the thread of human life. 
Some frail breastwork of lattice may give way with you, and 
the issue may be, not a season of pain and weakness, fol- 
lowed, as in his case, by death, but death upon the spot. A 
thousand contingencies there are, the occurrence of any one 
of which would end your life and your probation in a mo- 


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178 Elijah the Prophet. 

ment. Is it safe, then, to trust to that which, after all, may 
never be yours ? 

Moreover, though you may have a death-bed, it may be 
one of mental unconsciousness ; or, worse still, it may be 
one of spiritual insensibility ; and the repentance which you 
thought would come at your call may still be far away from 
you. I glory to preach the Gospel to a dying sinner ; but I 
would not have you to trust to a death-bed. There is one 
case in the Scriptures of a soul saved just ere the twelfth 
hour struck ; one — that no one, even at that late season, may 
despair— but only one, that no man in health should presume 
on such a contingency for himself. To-night, therefore, let 
those who are yet unconverted submit their hearts and lives 
to the Lord Jesus Christ, and then their experience will be 
blessed, and their deaths will be safe. Let your motto hence- 
forth be, "My life for Christ— my life for Christ!" and .then 
you will have no need to fear Death, come when he may. 

" It matters not at what hour o' th' (Jay 
The Christian falls asleep. Death can not come 
To him untimely who is fit to die. 
The less of this cold earth, the more of heaven ; 
The briefer life, the earlier immortality." 

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2 Kings ii. 

WE have a false idea of the work of Elijah if we 
suppose that it was restricted to such public appear- 
ances as that which he made on Carmel, or such denuncia- 
tions of iniquity in high places as those which he uttered in 
the vineyard of Naboth and the palace of Samaria. In the 
history of a nation it has often been noted that the periods 
of its highest prosperity are those which furnish fewest ma- 
terials for the public annalist ; and similarly in the life of a 
minister of God, the years of his most potent influence and 
most enduring work are frequently those concerning which 
his biographer can find least to say. 

Controversy, like war, is noisy and demonstrative, and 
forces itself on the attention of the chronicler ; but growth 
is a thing of quietness, and is withal so gradually manifested 
that it eludes the observation of the historian. I say not 
this by way of undervaluing controversy, for it has its own 
place and importance ; and he who shrinks firom it when the 
honor of Christ's name or the purity of Christ's church is 
concerned, is as much to be condemned as is the man who 
is an ecclesiastical Ishmaelite, with his hands against every 
one, and every one's hands against him. After all, however, 
the benefit of controversy is only temporary. It is an expos- 
ure and defeat of error for the time ; but unless it be followed 
up by the adoption of some measures for the permanent con- 
servation of the truth, the evil will come back, and the whole 

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i8o Elijah the Prophet. 

battle will have to be fought over again. Therefore, though 
less note may be taken of their quiet exertions, those who, 
after times of strife and debate, have sought to erect and 
maintain educational institutions for the perpetuation of lib- 
erty and truth, have done a work as needful and as impor- 
tant as that of the valiant hero who, in the hour of battle, 
stood forth as the champion of the Lord. 

Now, it is an evidence of the real greatness of Elijah that 
he rendered both of these kinds of service to his country. 
For the reason which I have already assigned, there is less 
said of the educational than of the controversial portion of 
his work by the historian. Yet, from sundry incidental al- 
lusions, we are led to the conclusion that much of the Tish- 
bite's labors, especially in the later years of his life, were 
given to the superintendence of the education of the sons 
of the prophets throughout the land. The first mention in 
Scripture of " schools of the prophets " is in the history of 
Samuel, and it is probable that he was himself the founder 
of that at Naioth. It is likely, too, that David bestowed con- 
siderable attention on these important seminaries, but, dur- 
ing the years that intervened between Solomon and Ahab, 
we have no reference made to them in the sacred books. 
And it is not unreasonable to conclude that in the wide- 
spread defection of the tribes, both in Judah and Israel, 
from the Lord, they had fallen into neglect. But, after the 
stirring controversy of his earlier ministry, Elijah seems to 
have set himself to the fostering, if not indeed to the re- 
founding, of these establishments. Either he himself set up 
such schools at Gilgal, at Bethel, and at Jericho, or, finding 
them existing there in a languishing condition, he labored 
to give them prosperity and permanence. These ancient 
colleges were under the superintendence of a recognized 
prophet, who was called the father^ while the students were 
styled his children, or sons. They were places of retire- 

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The Ascension. i8i 

ment adapted for study and devotion ; yet they were not 
monasteries, as we now understand the word, for the stu- 
dents were permitted to marry. They seem to me to have 
resembled rather the seminary of the ancient Culdee church, 
the ruins of which still awaken the interest of the traveler 
in the island of lona, and which was not a place of educa- 
tion merely, but also a great missionary centre from which 
laborers went forth in every direction to do- the work of the 
Lord. The subject of study at these institutions was the 
law of Moses ; and along with that, but subsidiary to it, at- 
tention was given to music and sacred poetry, while, alike 
for purposes of recreation and preparation for after-useful- 
ness, the young men were trained in various handicrafts, like 
those who to-day are in the seminary of the venerable Spit- 
tier, near Basel, on the edge of the Black Forest. 

In going to and fro among these schools, Elijah found the 
labor and the happiness of his later years. His form was 
familiar to the students, and they cherished for him a pecul- 
iar affection, which was as warmly reciprocated. So, when 
the close of his sojourn on the earth drew near, and it was 
intimated to him that he should be taken up to heaven by a 
whirlwind, it was natural that he should wish to pay a fare- 
well visit to those interesting institutions in which were 
gathered the young men who were the natibn^s hope. In- 
deed, from the narrative before us, it would seem that he 
was already at Gilgal when he said to Elisha, who had been 
for years his constant attendant, " Tarry here, I pray thee, 
for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel." But a similar inti- 
mation to that which had been given to Elijah had been 
vouchsafed to the son of Shaphat, and he, resolved to abide 
by his master to the last, replied, "As the Lord liveth and 
as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee." So they went both 
down to Bethel. As they approached the site of the sacred 
seminary, the well-known form of the man of God was recog- 

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i82 Elijah the Prophet. 

nized by the students, to whom also a knowledge of what 
was about to happen had been divinely communicated, and 
they came forth in a body to meet him with a greeting 
which was all the more tender because they knew it was 
their last. In response, we may imagine that he gave to 
them a few earnest counsels, bearing on their character and 
work ; but he said no word of that which was most heavy on 
their hearts ; and eager to talk to some one on the subject, 
they whispered to Elisha, " Knowest thou that the Lord will 
take away thy master from thy head to-day ?" But he was 
as reserved as his master, and merely indicated that he was 
aware of what was about to take place, while he enjoined 
them to be silent, out of respect to the feelings of Elijah. 

When they were about to depart from Bethel, the prophet 
renewed his request that Elisha should remain behind. It 
is difficult to account for this earnest wish of the Tishbite to 
be alone in the last and most glorious incident of his career. 
Perhaps its very solemnity made him desire to go apart from 
his fellows and his friends. We know that extreme agony 
or severe anxiety produces in the soul this lodging for soli- 
tude, and it may be that at the other end of the scale the 
same law holds good, and that the highest raptures of 
triumph isolate a man from others as really as do the deep- 
est trials. Or the prophet may have been prompted by a 
laudable modesty, and may have shrunk from seeming to 
make that a spectacle to others which was so full of honor 
to himself. Or, as in the case of Jesus, with the earnest 
suppliant, he may merely have designed to test and stimulate 
the faith of Elisha, so that at the critical moment he might 
be ready to receive the valuable legacy which he wished 
to leave him. But, whatever may have been his motive for 
asking Elisha to stay, his request was earnestly deprecated ; 
and so they went on together to Jericho, where the incidents 
which had occurred at Bethel were substantially repeated. 

Digitized by 


The Ascension. 183 

Again tlie students spoke privately to Elisha of his master's 
departure, and received an answer identical with that which 
he had given to their brethren. Again Elijah desired him 
to remain behind, and the former reply was given with deep- 
er and more earnest emphasis. 

So out from Jericho they two went on. Fifty students 
followed them till they came to an eminence which overlook- 
ed the Jordan, and there they remained " to view afar off." 
But the two pilgrims wended their way on toward the river, 
and when they reached the bank, Elijah, taking his mantle 
from his shoulders, and wrapping it up into a roll, smote the 
waters with it, and immediately they were parted hither and 
thither, so that they went over on dry ground. Up from the 
opposite bank they still held on their way ; and now, break- 
ing the sacred silence which they had both maintained con- 
cerning that which was yet so vividly before their minds, 
Elijah said, "Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken 
away from thee ;" to which Elisha made reply, " I pray thee, 
let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me." 

How wisely, how divinely taught the son of Shaphat was ! 
He seeks not riches, nor worldly honor, nor power, nor any 
thing that is in its nature earthly. He desires a double por- 
tion of his master's spirit. A double portion — the expres- 
sion is peculiar. It does not mean that Elisha wished to be 
twice as great a prophet as his master had been. It is the 
formula which is used in the law to denote the portion of 
the first-born son in the family ; and its employment here by 
Elisha is very much as if he had spoken after this fashion : 
"Thou hast been visiting, at Gilgal, at Bethel, and at Jericho, 
thy spiritual sons ; let me be as the first-born among them. 
Let me be, indeed, thy successor, the inheritor of thy spirit, 
and the continuer of thy work." 

To this request Elijah made reply: "Thou hast asked a 
hard thing : nevertheless, if thou see me taken from thee, it 

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184 Elijah the Prophet. 

shall be so unto thee ; but if not, it shall not be so." And 
still they went on and talked : how we wish we had known 
the character of their discourse, as thus they walked so 
consciously on the confines of the unseen ! Perhaps it was 
on high and heavenly themes ; or, just as likely, it was on 
some simple topic of daily life : we know not. Nor is it 
an uninstructive feature in the narrative that we are not in- 
formed concerning it ; for nothing — no, not even his parting 
words— must interfere with the impression produced upon us 
by the manner of the prophet's going hence. So, while they 
spake one with another, a whirlwind came rushing up, a 
sudden change passed over the heavens, and, lo ! in the bo- 
som of the cloud there was, as it were, a chariot of fire and 
horses of fire : 

" The drivers were angels on horses of whiteness, 
And its burning wheels turned upon axles of brightness; 
A seraph unfolded its doors bright and shining, 
All dazzling like gold of the seventh refining : 
On the arch of the rainbow the chariot is gliding, 
Through the paths of the thunder the horses are riding."* 

And so, "caught up to meet the Lord in the air," Elijah 
went up into heaven, while Elisha was left exclaiming, " My 
father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen 
thereof!" Then, gathering up the mantle which had fallen 
from his ascending master, he slowly retraced his steps ; and 
when he came to the river, he smote the waters with the offi- 
cial garment, crying, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" 
As he called, the river was again divided, and he went over. 
This was a sign to the students, who were still standing on 
the hill of Jericho, that he had succeeded to Elijah's dignity, 
and they went forth to meet him, and bowed themselves be- 
fore him. 

* Hyslop's " Cameronian's Dream." 

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The Ascension. 185 

So much occurred on the earthly side of that storm-cloud 
which parted the Tishbite from his faithful follower ; but 
who can adequately imagine, much less describe, all that 
transpired on the heavenly ? In a moment, in the twinkhng 
of an eye, the body of the prophet underwent that change 
which shall come upon the living at the day of Christ's ap- 
pearing, for "flesh and blood can not inherit the kingdom of 
God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption." Then, 
with every demonstration of welcome, he is ushered into the 
presence of Him whom he had served so lovingly upon the 
earth. And as he is led on to his place of honor by the side 
of Enoch and of Moses, there swells from the attendant 
thtong the glorious chorus, "Well done, good and faithful 
servant ! enter into the joy of thy Lord." Thou man of 
God, enjoy thy longed-for and well-earned repose! Well 
for thee that thy Lord took thee not at thy word, when thou 
didst cry for death beneath the juniper-tree of the wilder- 
ness ! Bravely hast thou fought the battle of thy earthly life, 
and gloriously hast thou been taken, not through death, but 
over death, to wear " the crown of pure and everlasting and 
passionless renown !" 

The history over which to-night we have come, unparal- 
leled as it is in some respects, has yet in it material for prac- 
tical applications that bear upon our modern life. We may 
learn from it, in the first place, the importance of the schools 
of the prophets in our land. Elijah paid no farewell visits 
to the great and noble of Israel ; but he could not leave the 
world without one more interview with the youths w^ho were 
prosecuting their education at Gilgal, Bethel, and Jericho ; 
and that not simply because they were dear to him person- 
ally, as Timothy was to Paul, but because he recognized the 
momentous results to the nation at large of the work which 
lay before them in the coming years. They had in their 
hands much of the making of the character of the people for 

Digitized by 


i86 Elijah the Prophet. 

the next generation. And so, after having lovingly superin- 
tended their seminaries during the riper portion of his life, 
he went to say to them some memorable and impressive 
words, which would ever connect themselves in their minds 
with his translation to heaven. Now, from all this, we should 
be stirred up to take a deep, affectionate, and personal inter- 
est in the colleges and theological seminaries of our country. 
Those who to-day are the inmates of these institutions are to 
mold the thoughts and actions of the coming age. In the 
Harvards and Yales and Princetons of the present, you will 
find, sitting side by side, in the soft and plastic period of 
their youth, those who are to be the legislators and philoso- 
phers and ministers of religion in our land, a few years hence, 
and who, when the present generation has passed away, will 
be the leaders of the community, giving it its intellectual, 
moral, and spiritual tone. There are, therefore, few institu- 
tions which have stronger claims upon our patriotism than 
the colleges of the land. Let them be liberally supported 
and generously endowed by the wealth of our merchants ; 
and let the foremost men among us in every department 
count it the greatest honor that can be given them when 
they are asked to labor in such promising and important 
fields. Some time ago, it was my privilege to visit Oberlin, 
Ohio, and to preach to the assembled students of the col- 
lege at that place. There were gathered together some 
twelve or fourteen hundred young people, and I have sel- 
dom been so deeply moved as when I rose to address them. 
I felt that there were very few places whence one*s words 
would radiate farther, or sound longer, than from that pulpit ; 
and I prayed that God might enable me to say something 
that would minister to his glory and the good of souls. 

But if such be the imp6rtance of the words of a casual 
visitor, how much greater must be that of the teachings of 
their constant instructors. Surely, the best men in the land 

Digitized by 


The Ascension. 187 

should be secured for the position of professors ; and when 
secured, as I beheve they very largely are, they ought to be 
liberally supported. Yet in this last respect the colleges of 
our country are greatly below the requirements of the age, 
and the salaries given to the professors, even in our oldest 
and most eminent institutions, are miserably inadequate. Let 
our men of wealth in the great cities look to this immediate- 
ly ; for the vigor of our educational institutions has a very 
intimate connection with the stability of our political consti- 
tution and the prosperity of our commercial enterprises. It 
gladdened the heart of Agassiz when one of our own citizens 
gave a whole island for the prosecution of his scientific pur- 
suits ; and though he did not live long to enjoy the gift, we 
feel thankful now that it was not delayed until it would have 
been too late.* Let others imitate this noble example; for 
education elevates and refines the nation, and our colleges 
are the true centres of influence in the land. 

But if it be important for our citizens to look after our 
colleges, it is even more so for our churches to give heed to 
the theological seminaries of the land. It is true, indeed, 
that the Christian people help very largely to make the min- 
ister who comes among them by the tone and temper of their 
daily lives ; but it is also a fact that the minister does much 
to make the church by his teaching and example. Now, our 
theological seminaries are making the ministers of the fut- 
ure. From them are to come forth the men who shall by- 
and-by occupy our pulpits, who shall lay the foundations of 
our churches in the new districts of the West, and who shall 
take up and carry forward the labors of our foreign mission- 
aries. The mantles of our present pastors and preachers 

* I have recently heard that the Penikese experiment has failed, for 
the time. Will no one step into the breach, and carry the enterprise 
into permanent prosperity ? 

Digitized by 


i88 Elijah the Prophet. 

are ere long to fall on the shoulders of those who are to-day 
the students of our seminaries. Surely, therefore, it well be- 
comes us to give the most fostering care to these interesting 
and noble institutions. Let us get for them the ablest men 
on whom we can lay our hands j let us give liberally, so that 
the occupant of a chair shall not feel that he is a whit behind 
the very chiefest of our city pastors in emolument ; and let 
us statedly and steadily remember them in our prayers, that 
God may pour upon them his richest benediction. There 
are few nobler positions on the earth than that occupied by 
him who trains the ministers of the Church of Christ ; and 
so when we have seen lately one of the most honored and 
successful of the ministers* of this city,' after a pastorate of 
forty years, consecrating the maturity of his experience, the 
wealth of his resources, the culture of his intellect, and the 
reputation of his life, to the work of the professorial chair, 
we have felt that it was all that was needed to give the or- 
namental capital to the polished pillar of his public life. 
May God preserve him long in his new and noble sphere, 
and may the influence of this act of his give to our theo- 
logical seminaries throughout the land a firmer hold on the 
minds and hearts of the members of the Christian church ! 

But, in the second place, we may learn from this history 
that there is commonly a correspondence between the gen- 
eral character of a life and the nature of its close. Elijah 
did not see death; but though w^e might not have antici- 
pated for him such a termination of his earthly career as that 
which we have to-night attempted to describe, we yet can 
see a special fitness in it as the close of such a life as his. 
His history was one of storm. He came in before Ahab, at 

* These words were written just after the acceptance by Dr. William 
Adams of the Presidency of Union Theological Seminary, and I delight 
in this opportunity of weaving my little ** mountain daisy " into the chap- 
let that adorns his brow. 

Digitized by 


The Ascension. 189 

■first, as with the rush of the hurricane ; and in the divine 
symbolism of the Horeb vision, we might describe his minis- 
try as consisting successively in whirlwind and earthquake 
and fire. Fitly, therefore, did such a one go up in a whirl- 
wind to heaven. Now, of course, in so far as his departure 
from the earth was a translation, it was exceptional, and, save 
in the case of Enoch, it has had no parallel ; but in so far as 
this sort of close to his life was appropriate to the general 
character of the work he did on earth, it was only another 
instance of the fact that the nature of a man's death is de- 
termined by the kind of life which has preceded it. Your 
Great-heart, who has gone through the world vanquishing ev- 
ery foe in the might of the Lord Jesus, finds the Jordan dry 
when he goes over, and has not so much a death as a trans- 
lation. Your Hopeful, who has been walking all along his 
pilgrimage in the sunshine of God's countenance, is of good 
cheer also when he goes into the river. In the rich old lan- 
guage of John Bunyan,he "feels the bottom, and it is good." 
While your timid Christian, who has all along been troubled 
with quivering misgivings, and has had to go shuddering 
through many. a valley of shadow, will be full of anxiety 
when he is in the article of death, and will be thankful for 
any word of promise which a brother may whisper m his 
ear. But you do not think any the less of him because of 
that ; nor do you imagine that there is, on that account, any 
less hope in his death. You are sorry for his own sake, be- 
cause you wish he had more peace and, indeed, some tri- 
umph ; but you recollect what has been the character of his 
experience throughout, and you begin to see that the manner 
of his departure is taking the same hue. We must have the 
life of an Elijah, if we are to have a translation at its close ; 
and it is noteworthy that, so far as we know any thing of it 
from the fragment of Jude, Enoch's was just such a life of 
struggle and protest against abounding iniquity as that of the 

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190 Elijah the Prophet. 

Tishbite. Paul could say with ease, "to die is gain," after 
he had been able to say, " to me to live is Christ." So if v/e 
wish to have an experience of peace and hope and triumph 
in the hour of our departure, we must get out of our despond- 
ency now, and begin to " live Christ " in the cheerfulness of 
his happiness as well as in the purity of his holiness. In 
any case, just as the river takes with it to the sea the color 
which its waters have contracted from the soil over which it 
has flowed throughout its course, so our death experiences 
will partake of the character, be it sombre or cheerful, which 
our lives have had. There may be exceptional instances, 
when, after long-continued despondency, there comes light at 
evening-time ; but these are exceptional. The best means 
of having light at death is to walk in the light through life. 
Try this, my brethren, and you will find that He who met 
Elijah with his chariot of fire will not be far from you when 
you close your eyes on this sublunary scene. 

We may note, in the third place, the connection which sub- 
sists between strong faith in the invisible life and the power 
of a public ministry. When Elisha requested a double por- 
tion of Elijah's spirit, his master made reply, " Thou hast 
asked a hard thing ; nevertheless, if thou see me when I am ' 
taken from thee, it shall be so unio thee ; but if not, it shall 
not be so." That is to say, the securing of that on which Eli- 
sha's heart was set depended on his seeing Elijah's ascension. 
Now, have you thought on the reason of that appended con- 
dition? Where the record is silent, we may conjecture ; but 
we must not dogmatize. It is with diffidence, therefore, that 
I venture to suggest an explanation. Still the suggestion 
may itself be profitable, whether or not you accept the theory 
on which it is based. The sight of Elijah's ascension gave to 
his servant a firmer and more vivid faith in the reality of the 
unseen life than he ever had before. Had Elijah simply 
died like another man, no more lively sense of the invisible 

Digitized by 


The Ascension. 191 

would have been given to Elisha than that which he had 
received at the death-bed of any other friend. But when 
he saw the prophet taken from his side alive, he felt as he 
had never felt before regarding the other state of existence. 
Wherever he had gone, the prophet was living, and if he had 
gone, as he was sure he had^ to Jehovah, then a new empha-! 
sis was given to the words which used to be so often on his 
lips, "Jehovah liveth," and in that faith in Jehovah as the 
living one lay the power of the spirit of Elijah. He did not 
think of the prophet as one thinks, in spite of himself some- 
times, of a near relative who is dead. He thought of him as 
alive, and that gave new reality in his soul to his belief in 
the living Jehovah. Hence it was with no misgivings, and 
not at all as an experiment to see how he would succeed, 
but in the strongest faith that he cried out, "Where is the 
Lord God of Elijah?" And the power which he then re- 
ceived continued with him throughout his entire career. 

We have a similar thing in the history of the Christian 
apostles. Their sight of the Lord^s ascension gave life and 
power to their labors in his cause. No doubt the Spirit came 
down upon them on Pentecost, but their prayer for the Spir- 
it derived life and earnestness from their knowledge of the 
fact that Jesus had gone alive into heaven ; and you can 
not read, in even the most cursory manner, the first chapters 
of the Acts of the Apostles without feeling how vivid was 
their sense of the fact that Christ was living. This it was 
that gave life to their prayers, earnestness to their discourses, 
and energy to their characters. Their devotions were no 
mere pious meditations, but they were like letters sent by 
one to another whom he knows to be interested in his doing ; 
and all their references to him in public were to one who 
was very real and very near to them. Thus on them also 
the Spirit of power came down through their faith in the un- 
seen, quickened and focalized as that was by their sight of 

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192 Elijah the Prophet. 

their Lord in the act and article of his ascension. Now, if 
we would have more power, we must aim first at securing 
this faith in the invisible. It was said of one that as he 
prayed he spoke as if God was so near, and talked with him 
so really and confidingly, that those who were beside him 
found themselves almost looking round to see where God 
was. It was said of another that he preached as if the Lord 
Jesus were standing just by his side. Brethren, when we 
have this faith in the real, living nearness to us of the un- 
seen Jehovah, we, too, shall have the Spirit of power, and 
find upon our shoulders — shall I make bold to say it? — 
the mantle, not of a prophet or apostle, but of the ascend- 
ed Christ himself. 

Let us learn, in the fourth place, the value of a good man 
to his country. Elisha called his master "the chariot of 
Israel and the horsemen thereof," implying that he was the 
true national defense, better to Israel than all the pomp and 
circumstance of a military host. And that this was no ex- 
aggerated estimate, we may learn from the valuable services 
which Elisha himself rendered to the ten tribes when they 
were sorely menaced by the Syrian hosts. But though his 
gift of prophecy and miracle made Elijah peculiarly service- 
able to Israel, it is as true to-day as it was in his time that 
the real strength and rampart of a nation are the good men 
that belong to it. Character is power ; and, therefore, that 
is the strongest nation that has most of purity and morali- 
ty and nobleness in the lives of its people. " Providence," 
said Bonaparte on one occasion, somewhat sneeringly, " is 
generally on the side of the strongest battalions." Be it so ; 
but has not the moral character of the soldiery much to do 
with the strength of the battalion which they form ? . And 
even, apart from military prowess altogether, are not the 
prayers of the people of God more powerful than all the en- 
ginery of war. "There was a litde city, and few men with- 

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The Ascension. 193 

in it ; and there came a great king against it, and besieged 
it, and built great bulwarks against it. Now there was 
found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom deliver- 
ed the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man. 
Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength :' nevertheless 
the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not 
heard."* Thus spake Solomon thousands of years ago, and 
the world has not yet learned the lesson of his words. Wis- 
dom is better than strength. Character is the noblest 
strength. Oh that the men of this land to-day would but 
give good heed to this neglected truth! It is not armies 
or navies, or diplomacy or wealth, that is to defend us from 
attack without, or from perfidy within. It is character that 
is a nation's real grandeur and true palladium. But what 
makes the noblest character ? Is it not belief in and obe- 
dience to the Lord Jesus Christ ? Thus piety is the loftiest 
patriotism, and the army of Christian men and women are 
more to our land than all earthly soldiery or military defense. 
Finally, let us learn that though men are removed from 
earth, God remains to strengthen and bless his people. Eli- 
jah ascends, but God, through Elisha, is as gracious as be- 
fore. So when statesmen and lyiinisters of religion are taken 
away, the Lord is still left to the state and to the church. 
They did not take Jehovah with them when they left the 
earth, and we can still sing, " God lives ; blessed be our 
Rock, and let the God of our salvation be exalted." Nor is 
the application of this truth restricted to national or eccle- 
siastical life. It is true in our homes as well as in our 
churches. The head of the household may be removed. 
But the God of Elijah remains, who fed his servant by the 
ravens, and made provision for the widow and the orphan in 
the home of Zarephath. Therefore he will provide for and 

* Ecclesiastes ix., 14-16. 

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194 Elijah the Prophet. 

comfort the bereaved who put their trust in him. Haply 
there may be some one here to-night mourning over some 
such loss, and crying, not in tlie assurance of firm faith, but 
in the sadness of despondency, " Where is the Lord God of 
Elijah?" Let such a one take courage from the bearing 
of Elisha here, and go forward. True, the river of some 
great difficulty may lie before thee, and thou mayest fear to 
advance ; but Jehovah will open up thy way. He who ten- 
derly fed his desponding servant when he lay beneath the 
Juniper-tree will not forsake thee. He is near to all that 
call upon him — that call upon him in truth. Therefore, call 
upon him in the day of trouble : " he will deliver thee, and 
thou shalt glorify his name." 

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Luke ix., 30, 31. 

N Alpine traveler has told us how, one day, he set out 
from Geneva, in a dense and dripping fog, to climb 
one of the hills in the range of the Grand Sal^ve ; and how, 
after ascending for some hours, he came out above the mist, 
and saw the cloudless sky above him, and around him on ev- 
ery hand the snowy battlement of the glorious mountains. 
In the valley lay the fog, like a waveless ocean of white va- 
por ; and as he stood on the overhanging crags, he could 
hear the chime of bells, the lowing of cattle, and the sounds 
of labor coming up from the villages that lay invisible be- 
neath ; while now and then, darting up out of the cloudy sea, 
there came a bird, which, after delighting itself a while in 
the joyous sunshine, and singing a glad song to greet the 
unexpected brightness, dived down again and disappeared. 
Now what that brief time of unclouded radiance was to the 
bird which had left the drizzling dullness of the lower world 
beneath it, that was the experience of the transfiguration to 
our Lord Jesus. His earthly life, as a whole, was spent in 
the valley, beneath the clouds of suffering and sorrow; and 
it was only at rare intervals that he emerged above it, and 
stood on the mountain-top in the glorious majesty of his na- 
tive Godhead. Of such occasions, that of the transfiguration 
was, by far, the grandest. There was, indeed, nothing pre- 
cisely like it in his whole earthly career. It stands alone, 
even among the marvels of his history, rising above them 

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196 Elijah the Prophet. 

with as much magnificence as does the mountain on which 
it took place above the surrounding plain. 

And yet, because it was singular, we are not to conclude 
that it was the most marvelous incident of his life ; for when 
we remember that he was divine, nothing will seem more nat- 
ural than that his glory should be thus transcendent. View- 
ed from the heavenly and divine side of his nature, his trans- 
figuration was indeed the least surprising thing in his expe- 
rience. There is nothing astonishing in the idea that God 
should be surrounded with light as with a garment : but that 
he should have taken human nature; that he should have 
lain in the cradle of infancy, and wrought at the carpenter's 
bench, and been crucified on a malefactor's cross — these 
are the marvels. Accordingly, the glorified saints who were 
with him on the Mount expressed no surprise at seeing him 
" pavilioned with splendor ;" but they conversed with him on 
the decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem as on 
the thing which was at once most amazing to them and most 
interesting to him. 

But we must not anticipate, or begin to expound the mean- 
ing of the transfiguration, until we have endeavored to set it 
in its true perspective by placing before you its antecedents 
and surroundings. Some six dr eight days before, Peter had 
made his noble confession of faith : " Thou art the Christ, 
the son of the living God ;" and almost immediately there- 
after the Lord made formal announcement to his followers 
of his approaching death and resurrection. This took them 
all by surprise ; for though, with his accustomed impulsive- 
ness, Peter was the first to speak, he was yet only giving ut- 
terance to the sentiments of them all when he said, " That 
be far from thee. Lord ; this shall not be unto thee." But, 
to their still greater amazement, this response of the son of 
Jonas, which seemed to them so full of kindness, was met 
with perhaps the severest reproof that ever came from the 

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Elijah on the Mount. 197 

Master's lips : "Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an of- 
fense unto me : for thou savorest not the things that be of 
God, but those that be of men." 

This conversation, peculiar as it was, both in its theme 
and in its manner, must have been still fresh in the memory 
of the disciples, when about a week after, at the close of a 
day spent in the service of humanity, the Lord sought rest 
<Jf spirit in fellowship with his Father. For this purpose he 
betook himself to a mountain, and, leaving nine of his dis- 
ciples in the valley, he took with him those three who were 
always chosen by him for special privilege or arduous duty. 
When they reached the summit, it would seem that night 
had darkened down upon them, and Jesus gave himself to 
prayer, while his companions, worn out by the fatigues of 
the ascent, were " heavy with sleep." But having had for- 
mer experience that, when they were thus selected from the 
others, something unusual was sure to happen, they bravely 
battled with their drowsiness and kept awake (for the word 
rendered " when they were awake " properly means " having 
kept awake "). Nor was their watchfulness unrewarded, for, 
as Jesus " filled the silent night " with his supplications, a 
wondrous transformation passed upon him. " His face did 
shine as the sun," and " his raiment became shining, exceed- 
ing white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them." 

This light was not reflected upon him from without, but it 
was radiated from the divinity that dwelt within him ; it was 
the breaking through of the glory, which commonly was veiled 
by the flesh of his humanity. But as they looked on, and 
their dazzled eyes became accustomed to the shining splen- 
dor, they saw that their Master was not alone. " There ap- 
peared with him two men," wearing the garb of glorified hu- 
manity, whom, by some peculiar 'indications, they identified 
as Moses and Elijah, and they talked with him on the sub- 
ject of his death upon the cross. What a theme for such 

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198 Elijah the Prophet. 

high converse ! How we long to have but one golden sen- 
tence from that glorious triumvirate on such a subject ! Lit- 
tle wonder that Peter, as he listened, desired that the pre- 
cious privilege should be indefinitely prolonged, and said, as 
he saw the celestial deputation about to depart : " Lord, it is 
good for us to be here : if thou wilt, let us make here three 
tabernacles ; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for 
Elias." But, after all, his request was one of ignorance. 
There was a world to be redeemed and converted; there 
were sufferers in the valley waiting to be relieved ; there was 
work to be done, which needed the self-sacrifice and exer- 
tion alike of his Lord, of himself, and of his apostolic com- 
panions ; and so, even as he spake, there came the mystic 
shechinah cloud, the emblem of Jehovah's presence, wherein 
he was in part revealed, and in part also concealed, and over- 
shadowed them. As it settled down upon them, they were 
filled with holy reverence, and there came to them a voice 
from the excellent glory, " This is my beloved Son, in whorn 
I am well pleased ; hear ye him." Then, as it passed away, 
and the clear shining of the silent stars was seen by them 
once more, Jesus was found alone ; and when the day broke 
they descended to the valley, with a new and deeper adora- 
tion of him who had called them to be his followers. 

Now, if I were to attempt to expound the full significance 
of this remarkable event in the Gospel history, there are 
many methods which I might adopt. I might look at it in 
its relation to the Saviour, to the glorified beings who stood 
by his side, to the apostles, and to the church at large ; or I 
might take it as furnishing one of the most striking proofs 
of the deity of Him who came into the world to save sin- 
ners ; or I might regard it as establishing the reality of the 
unseen state of existence, and the fact that the inhabitants 
of heaven are deeply interested in the progress of the cause 
of Christ upon the earth. But, coming upon it as I do now. 

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Elijah on the Mount. 199 

in connection with our study of the Hfe and times of Elijah 
the Tishbite, I am compelled to narrow the range of my ob- 
servations, and look at it from that point of view which will 
best enable us to understand the* presence of Elijah with 
Moses on the occasion. This, however, will be no disadvan- 
tage in the end, inasmuch as, by so doing, we shall grasp 
the central significance of the scene, which, while it was truly 
historic, was also designed to be parabolic and instructive. 

Now, if we will attentively consider it, we shall discover 
that the central truth of the transfiguration was this : Christ 
glorified in connection with his death. The disciples, in 
their ignorance and prejudice, had supposed that it would 
be a dishonor to their Lord to be put to death ; and they 
looked upon such an event as a virtual extinguishing of 
the hopes which they had permitted themselves to cherish. 
They fancied that their Master had come to establish an 
earthly kingdom, wherein they should hold places of pecul- 
iar honor ; and so, when they heard him speak of his de- 
cease, they accounted that he was preparing for defeat, and 
that they were about to be covered with confusion. Hence 
they preferred to hear no more about it ; the subject was 
one which was full of pain and grief to them. So far from 
wreathing him whh glory, the death of their Master, in their 
estimation, would darken him with dishonor, in which, as his 
chosen companions, they would have to share. But here, 
as he speaks with Moses and Elijah on this very topic, his 
countenance is radiant" with brightness, and they show an 
intensity of interest in its accomplishment which furnishes a 
remarkable contrast to the hasty deprecation in which Peter 
had indulged. Thus there was given to the disciples a new 
view of that decease, from the very thought of which they 
had so revolted at the first, and they were taught to connect 
it, not with shame, but with honor. 

Let us learn the lesson with them. We can not compre- 

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200 Elijah the Prophet. 

hend the transfiguration if we dissever it from Calvary; for 
the glory that radiated from Jesus on the Mount was but 
the first faint foretaste of that celestial honor which would 
be conferred on him when he should ascend from his com- 
pleted work, and take his seat on the right hand of the Maj- 
esty on high. 

Tell us, ye who would have us believe that the death of 
Jesus was a mere martyrdom, like that of Stephen, why here 
Christ is so glorified as he speaks concerning it, and why 
these great ones, so long the denizens of heaven, should ap- 
pear on earth to talk with him of its accomplishment. Why 
did they not rather discourse of the morality he taught, of 
the holiness he manifested, ot of the originality of the doc- 
trines which he promulgated ? Rest assured, my brethren, 
that, wherever the cross of Christ may be undervalued and 
the sacrifice of Christ ignored, it is not in heaven ; and the 
very same motive that urges the redeemed before the throne 
to sing " Worthy is the Lamb that was slain," impelled these 
two representatives of the church triumphant here to speak 
with Jesus of the " decease which he should accomplish at 

That death upon the cross was not a mere personal mat- 
ter, concerning only Jesus Christ himself. It involved in it 
the dearest interests of saints already in heaven, and of sin- 
ners down to the last hour of time. It was, indeed, the most 
important event in the history of the universe; the great 
central fact in the annals of humanity ; the meeting-place 
of the two eternities. By it Jesus consummated his sacrifi- 
cial work ; satisfied the law and justice of God in the room 
of sinners, triumphed over all his adversaries, and laid the 
foundation of that kingdom which is to be universal in its 
extent and eternal in its duration. All this, of course, would 
not appear, at first, in connection with it. When men saw 
him hanging on the cross, and heard him cry, in heaviness 

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Elijah on the Mount. 201 

of spirit, " My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?" it 
might seem to them, it did seem to them, that he was van- 
quished ; but when he rose from the tomb on the morning 
of the third day, he was declared a conqueror, and was seen 
to be the deliverer of his people from sin and death. 

This, I doubt not, was the view which Moses and Elijah 
got of it as thus they stood in glory, and spake of it with the 
transfigured Christ ; for there is a peculiarity in the original 
expression that is, to my mind, singularly suggestive. Liter- 
ally rendered, Luke's words are, " They spake of the exo- 
dus which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." It may be 
a mere fancy, indeed ; yet as that is the term which, in the 
Greek version of the Old Testament, even as in our own ' 
English Bible, is the name of the Second Book of Moses, that 
tells of the leading-forth of the tribes of Israel from their 
house of bondage, I can not help thinking that these two an- 
cient worthies had come to regard the death of Christ as a 
grander exodus than that of which Moses was the leader ; 
and whether they had or not, there is no doubt whatever 
that such was really the fact. That of Moses delivered from 
the bondage of the Egyptian task-masters, whose lash galled 
only the body; this of Jesus rescues from the slavery, of sin, 
whose chains of habit are coiled around the soul. That of 
Moses was achieved by the destruction of Pharaoh and his 
host ; this of Jesus by the overthrow of Satan and his legions. 
That of Moses was accomplished by the mere attribute of 
power, through the instrumentality of his wonder-working 
rod ; this of Jesus was wrought out by love, which sacrificed 
itself for the good of sinners on the across of Calvary. That 
of Moses emancipated but one nation ; this has introduced 
a great multitude, whom no man can number, out of all peo- 
ples, and kindreds, and ages, into " the glorious liberty of the 
children of God." Hence, if it be true, as Bunsen says, that 
" history itself was born on the night when Moses led forth 


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202 Elijah the Prophet. 

his countrymen from the land of Goshen," it is no less true 
that a new era in the annals of humanity was introduced at 
Calvary when our Great Deliverer cried, not in weakness, 
but in triumph, " It is finished !" 

The bush burned, but it was not consumed ; yea, in the 
midst of the flame, its green leaves kept their verdure, in- 
tensifying the wonder of the spectacle, whereon Moses gazed 
with rapt reverence and in unsandaled feet. But here is a 
wonder greater still ; for while the fire played round the 
man Christ Jesus, the divinity within him still kept its inde- 
structible features, and gave to the spectacle at once its mys- 
tery and its majesty. 

Brethren, there are two transfigurations : that of the Mount, 
and that of the cross ; and it is impossible to understand ei- 
ther, save in the light of the other. He who was on the Mount 
was still the Man of Sorrows, and he who was on the cross 
was still the Divine Son. The death on the cross gave its 
glory to the mountain scene ; the declaration on the Mount 
makes the death all - radiant with triumph, in spite of the 
blackened heavens and the hooting multituSe. To the heav- 
enly hosts the scene upon the Mount was natural, and that 
on the cross was the transfiguration ; to us the death was 
human, and the mountain scene divine ; but, in reality, the 
two are one, or, rather, they are but opposite sides of the one 
great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh ; and 
both alike are transcendently glorious. 

But I must pass on to remark, in the second place, how 
Christ, glorified through his death, reflects back a radiance 
on Moses and Elijah. , At first sight we are disposed to 
wonder that, out of all the glorified ones in lieaven, these 
two should have been chosen to be present on this great 
occasion ; and, doubtless, had the selection been made on 
merely personal grounds, it might have fallen upon others, 
such as Abraham, the father of the faithful, or Daniel, the 

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Elijah on the Mount. 203 

man greatly beloved. But the delegation was sent for pub- 
lic rather than personal reasons ; and in the official position 
which these two had held on earth we find the explanation 
of their appearance here. Moses is inseparably associated 
with the law which was given to Israel through his instru- 
mentality ; while Elijah (as we have seen) was distinguished 
for his zeal in reforming his countrymen, and bringing them 
back to the observance of the precepts which Moses had 
commanded, but which Ahab and the people had disre- 

It has been supposed by many, indeed, that Elijah was 
here as the representative of the prophets ; but though, in 
the broad sense of speaking in the name and by ftie inspi- 
ration of God, Elijah was certainly a prophet, yet there is 
a clear distinction between him and Isaiah, or Ezekiel, or 
Daniel, or Zechariah. These last all looked forward, and 
had much to say of the great coming Deliverer, and the king- 
dom which he was to establish on the earth. But the work 
of Elijah was not so much a preparation for the future as an 
earnest effort for the restoration of the past. It was with 
him through all his public life, as it was that day on Carmel, 
when he repaired the altar which had been broken down. 
During his whole public ministry he was seeking to build 
up a ruined altar, and to bring back again the nation to its 
observance of the Mosaic ritual. 

Thus it was most fit that he should stand by the side of 
Moses, especially when now, as the result of Christ's death, 
the necessity for the perpetuation of the Mosaic economy 
was about to cease, and a new and better, because more 
spiritual, dispensation was to be introduced. They were 
here to do homage to the Lord Jesus as the new king ; they 
were here to set an example to the Jev^'S of confidence in 
the Christ who had come to abrogate the law by " the bring- 
ing-in of a better hope." 

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204 Elijah the Prophet. 

But observe that they were here in glory. Now, that of 
course was a literal fact. They came wearing the nature of 
the blessed immortals in the heavenly world. Of that there 
can be no doubt. Yet this glory had also a parabolic sig- 
nificance, and we see in it the illumination which is given to 
the whole system of Jewish worship by the death of Christ. 
Nothing can well be more unmeaning or enigmatical than a 
transparency when you put it upon a mantel-shelf, or hang 
it against a dark background. But take it up, and look at it 
with the bright sunshine behind it, and what a transfigura- 
tion ensues I Forthwith some exquisite work of art comes 
into view, and lines of beauty and significance, which you 
would n^er otherwise have thought of, force themselves 
upon your attention. 

Now is it not just so with the whole history and economy 
of Moses ? In themselves considered, the Books of Exodus, 
Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy are not the most in- 
teresting in the Scriptures ; but take them and read them in 
the light of Christ, and what a new world of meaning is there 
then revealed I Peruse the Book of Exodus in the light of 
the Gospel history and of Christian experience, and say if 
Moses is not made thereby a sharer in the glory of the trans- 
figured Christ ? Egypt, Marah, the manna, the wilderness, 
the water from the rock, the serpent of brass, the parted Jor- 
dan, the long-desired Canaan, with its milk and honey, all 
acquire a new significance, and the book is henceforth an old 
edition of the " Pilgrim's Progress," in black-letter, and with 
quaint engravings, such as strike us more than the finished 
pictures of a modern artist. 

So, again, with the ritual which Moses introduced : take 
Christ for a background to that transparency, and you have 
the Epistle to the Hebrews, so marvelous in its beauty and 
so matchless in its glory. The tabernacle, with its furniture ; 
the festivals, with their peculiar surroundings ; the ark, with 

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Elijah on the Mount. 205 

its cherubim continually gazing on the blood-stained mercy- 
seat, as the angels desire to look into the sufferings of Christ 
and the glory that should follow — all are irradiated with 
new lustre, a lustre reflected from the face of Christ. 

Take one example : In the ordinances prescribed for the 
great Day of Atonement, we find that two goats were to be 
designated by lot ; the- one was to be slain, and the other, 
bearing sin on its devoted head, was to be led by the hand 
of a fit man into the wilderness. It seems a singular and 
unmeaning thing; but when you look at the whole in the 
light of Christj these two goats, like the two pictures in the 
modern stereoscope, blend into one finely relieved and beau- 
tifully distinct image of " the Lamb of God taking away the 
sin of the world." So it is with all the others. 

And so do we find it also with Elijah. You have wonder- 
ed, as, indeed, I have myself, at the deeply suggestive lessons 
for modern life which we have received from this old history 
of the Tishbite ; but here is the explanation as we read it 
with the Son of Righteousness for a background. Nothing 
can well be duller or more dingy than the appearance of 
a cathedral window to one who is looking on it from the out- 
side of the building ; but when you enter, and gaze at it from 
within, the whole is aglow with beauty. 

Now, most people read the history of Elijah much as they 
would that of some old hermit, and they get little out of it. 
We have tried to read it in the light of the Gospel, and, as 
we have done so, we have seen that Elijah is a sharer of the 
glory of the transfigured Christ. We saw Calvary from Car- 
mel j in the still small voice which we heard at Horeb we 
discerned the merciful accents of Him whom the Magdalene 
recognized when, at the door of the sepulchre, he said unto 
her " Mary !" And in the ascension of the faithful prophet 
we descried a far-off prediction of the day when to those on 
his right hand the Judge shall say, " Come, ye blessed of my 

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2o6 Elijah the Prophet. 

father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foun- 
dation of the world." Thus the glory of Christ illuminates 
Moses and Elias ; and as we read their pages, so irradiated, 
we are to ourselves as if we stood with the privileged three 
on the Mount of Transfiguration, and we, too, are constrain- 
ed to say, " It is good for us to be here." 

But now, advancing another step, behold how, as Moses 
and Elijah are thus glorified by Christ, they retire from 
view, and give place to him. When the vision was past, the 
disciples saw no man, save " Jesus only ;" nay, when the two 
were in the act of departing, the cloud came down, and a 
voice from the midst of it proclaimed, " This is my beloved 
Son, in whom I am well pleased." Thus the servants fall 
back before the Son whom the Father solemnly introduces 
to the world, and commends to its attention, saying, in effect, 
" Ye have heard Moses and Elijah, and ye did well to hear 
them ; for they were my servants. But now a greater than 
either has come to you, even mine only begotten and well- 
beloved Son ; therefore hear him." 

Thus Moses and Elijah, when rightly understood, lead up 
to Christ, and leave us with him. Their function was peda- 
gogic, or educational, and it is over when men come to 
Christ. The moment the Mosaic ritual is seen in its true 
bearing on the Gospel, it ceases to be binding on the con- 
science, and nien are enjoined to take the law at the Re- 
deemer's lips. Hence this vision, rightly understood, was 
designed to make the transition from the law to the Gospel 
easy for the disciples and their earliest converts among the 

But in this last " Hear him " there are a breadth and an 
intensity of injunction that concern us also. Hear him ! 
My brother, have you opened your ears to any of his words ? 
Have you listened to his faithful warnings, his tender ex- 
postulations, his gracious invitations, his precious promises, 

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Elijah on the Mount. 207 

his consoling utterances? Is it so that you have an ear 
for the classic dramatist, or the political orator, or the sci- 
entific lecturer, or the concord of sweet sounds that came 
first from the heart and brain of some Beethoven or Mozart, 
while yet you will not listen to the Son of God ? Go back to 
the days of his flesh, and be reproved by the words which 
fell from the lips of the officers sent by his enemies to ap- 
prehend him, as they said, "Never man spake like this man." 
Go back, and learn from the masses of his own day how 
much you miss in turning away from him ; for " the common 
people heard him gladly." Even as artistic productions, his 
discourses are unrivaled in the literature of earth. Where 
will you find such fertility and beauty of illustration, wedded 
to such simplicity of style and massiveness of thought? 
Who so qriginal as the prophet of Nazareth ? Who so au- 
thoritative with the authority of truth ? Who so sympathetic 
as he who bore our griefs and carried our sorrows ? But 
that is a low ground on which to ask your attention to his 
words. He is the Son of God, and his utterances concern 
you. " Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Im- 
penitent sinner, hear that ! " Except a man be born again, 
he can not see the kingdom of God." Hypocrite, with the 
fair show and the false heart, hear that ! " God so loved the 
world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever 
believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." 
Despairing sinner, you who fear that God has cast you off, 
hear that " whosoever," and grasp it, and by it lift yourself 
up to the " whosoever believeth." " Him that cometh unto 
me, I will in nowise cast out." Doubting sinner, hesitating 
whether you will be received if you come, hear that ! " Let 
not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also 
in me." Desponding Christian, who art carrying the burden 
of some sore sorrow, hear that! "I am the Resurrection 
and the Life : he that believeth in me, though he were dead, 

Digitized by 


2o8 Elijah the Prophet. 

yet shall he live ; and he that liveth, and believeth in me, 
shall never die." Bereaved Christians, hear that ! Take the 
Sermon on the Mount, all ye who are seeking for a directory 
for life, and as you read it forget not these closing words : 
" Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, 
I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon 
a rock : and the rain descended, and the floods came, and 
the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: 
for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth 
these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened 
unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand : 
and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds 
blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell : and great was 
the fall of it.'* 

I have, to-night, but one thought for my closing lesson. 
See here the reality of the future life. Elijah was with 
Christ more than eight hundred years after his translation, 
and Moses more than twelve hundred after his burial in 
" Nebo's lonely mountain.*' As Elijah did not die, we know 
that he appeared in glorified humanity; and as it is said 
that two men talked with Jesus, we infer that the body of 
Moses had been raised in anticipation of the general resur- 
rection. If this view be accepted, then it may help to ex- 
plain an obscure passage in the Epistle of Jude, where we 
read that " Michael the archangel contended with the devil, 
disputing about the body of Moses." But however that may 
have been, here are two men living hundreds of years after 
the death of the one and the translation of the other. 

Here, therefore, we have one of the most striking proofs 
of the reality of the world unseen. We must either give up 
our faith in the historic verity of this narrative, or we must 
accept it as an incontrovertible evidence of the fact that 
there is a life beyond this. Now, I will not argue here. I 
know you believe that there is such a state. But what pro- 

Digitized by 


Elijah on the Mount. 209 

vision- are you making for it? Where will you be in it? 
Here, centuries after the finishing of their earthly course, we 
find Moses and Elijah in such circumstances as warrant us 
to believe that they were happy in the presence of their God. 
In a short time each of us shall be as they, with the mystery 
of death behind us ; but shall we be as they also, joyful in 
the heavenly inheritance ? The first moment after death — 
that will settle it all. What will that be ? Nay, I am wrong. 
We are settling even now what that first moment shall be. 
How are you settling it, my hearer ? If you are living in 
sin, you are settling that, when you leave the body, the first 
and continued experience of your soul shall be that of per- 
dition ; if you are living in Christ, you are settling that, 
when your spirit leaves its fleshly tabernacle, you shall have 
" a building of God ; a house not made with hands, eternal 
in the heavens." Which is it? 

Now the God of Peace, that brought again from the dead 
our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through 
the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in 
every good work to do his will, working in you that which is 
well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be 
glory for ever and ever. Amen. 

Digitized by 


Digitized by 



Abel-meholah, situation of, 133 ; plowing at, described, 134. 

Adams, Rev. Dr. William, 188. 

Ahab, character of, 7, 8 ; guilt of, as distinguished from that of Jerobo- 
am, 8, 9 ; motive of, for the introduction of Baal-worship into Israel, 
10, II ; Elijah's first interview with, 12-18; searches for Elijah, 24; 
meeting of, with Elijah, 71-74; selfishness of, 80 ; on Mount Carmel, 
90; ride of, from Carmel to Jezreel, 112 ; in the vineyard of Naboth, 
147 ; story of his covetousness, 148 ; sick from disappointment, 149 ; 
acquiesces in Jezebel's policy, 151 ; confronted by Elijah, 151 ; partial 
repentance of, 152 ; death of, 152. 

Ahaziah, sickness of, 164, 166; sends his 'servants to Ekron, 166; orders 
the apprehension of Elijah, 167 ; visited by Elijah in his death-cham- 
ber, 169. 

Alliances, unholy, evil of, 156. 

Answers to prayer to be expected, 106, 108 ; come through the ordinary 
operation of the laws of nature, 109 ; should be recognized when they 
do come, 108-112 ; are not mere coincidences, no. 

Ashtaroth and Baal, their worship characterized, 10, 11 ; inconsistency 
of their worship with that of Jehovah, 91. 

Atonement, great day of, services on, 205. 

Authoress of the " Chronicles of the Schonberg-cotta Family," quoted 
from, 49. 

Baal and Ashtaroth, their worship characterized, 10 ; manner in which 
Elijah met the worship of, 17; relation of, to present controversies, 
18; priests of, on Carmel, 90, 93, loi, 103. 

Banquet given by Elisha, 137. 

Benevolence, principles of, 83. * 

Bernard and others, position of, in Church of Rome, 77. 

" Bible Lands," by Dr. Van-Lennep, quoted from, 93. 

Blindness of ungodliness, 84. 

Bonar's, Dr. H., " Sinai," quoted from, 118. 

Botanist, story of a, 79, 80. 

Digitized by 


212 Index. 

Calvary, sacrifice on, related to that on Carmel, 97 ; and to the trans- 
figuration, 200. 

Carmel, Mount, described, 87 ; modern name of ridge, 89 ; historical 
associations connected with, 88; gathering of the people to, 90; 
appearance of Elijah on, 90 ; sacri^ce on, 93 ; relation of, to Cal- 
vary, 97. 

Chalmers, Dr. Thomas, anecdote of, 131. 

Cherith, probable situation of, 24, 25 ; brook failed, 38. 

Children, death of, 56. 

Christ, miracles of, greater than those of Elijah, 60, 61 ; transfiguration 
of, 197 ; death o(, 200, 202 ; the only ruler in the Gospel dispensation, 

Circumstances no excuse for declining to serve Christ, 78. 

Colleges, importance of sustaining, 185-187. 

Companion, value of a faithful, 121. 

Cowper's " Task," quotation from, 52, 53. 

Curse attending ill-gotten gains, 160. 

Death of children, 56. 

Decision for God, urgency of, 98. 

Definiteness in prayer enforced, 105. 

Dervishes, modem, cut themselves, like the ancient priests of Baal, 93. 

Despondency often due to merely physical causes, 119. 

Diversity of gifts in different servants of God, 143. 

Double portion of Elijah's spirit, meaning of, 183. 

Eadie's " Cyclopedia," quoted from, 32. 

Ease more dangerous to piety than difficulty, 79, 80. 

Effects of physical exhaustion on spiritual experience, 119. 

Eleanor, Queen, story of, 122. 

Elijah, first appearance of, 12 ; meaning of his name, 14 ; character of, 
15, 32, 54; first utterance of, 16 ; sent to Cherith, 24; search for by 
Ahab, 24 ; fed by ravens, 29 ; faith of, tried at Cherith, 38 ; sent to 
Zarephath, 40 ; meeting o^ with the widow, 44 ; how occupied at Zar- 
ephath, 53, 54 ; tenderness of, 55 ; raises the widow's son to life, 58, 
59 ; miracles of, contrasted with those of Christ, 60, 61 ; training of, 
for Carmel, 66, 67 ; re-appearance of, 69 ; feelings of, on return to Is- 
rael, 70, 71 ; meeting of, with Obadiah, 71, 72 ; with Ahab, 74 ; ap- 
I^earance of, on Carmel, 90, 91 ; proposal of, to the people at Car- 
mel, 91; preparation for sacrifice by, 93; prayer of, 103-115; run- 
ning before *Ahab, 112-115; flight of, from Jezebel, 117; causes of 
despondency of, 1 19-124; vision of, at Horeb, 129, 130; visit of, to 
Abel-meholah, 135 ; contrast between, and Elisha, 144 ; confronts 
Ahab in Naboth's vineyard, 151 ; mission of, not so much political as 
religious, 165 ; intercepts the messengers of Ahaziah, 166 ; calls for 
fire from heaven upon his adversaries, 168 ; visits Ahaziah upon his 

Digitized by 


Index. 213 

death-bed, 169; relation of, to the sons of the prophets, 180; visits 

Bethel, Gilgal, and Jericho, 180-182 ; ascension of, 184 ; presence of, 

on the Mount of Transfiguration, 202, 203. 
Elisha at the plow, 134 ; called by Elijah, 135 ; feast given by, 137 ; 

training of, under Elijah, 142 ; contrast between, and Elijah, 144 ; 

last request of, to Elijah, 183 ; lifts the mantle of Elijah, and divides 

the Jordan with it, 184. 
El Muhrakah, description of, 88. 

Emerson's " Letters from the ^Egean " quoted from, 109. 
Emotion, exhaustion caused by, 120. 

Esdraelon, plain of, historical associations connected with, 88. 
Exaggerated expectations, evil of, 123-125. 

Fairbairn's "Imperial Bible Dictionary" quoted from, 117. 

Faith, manifested by waiting obedience, 39. 

Famine, description of, 24, 71. 

Fenelon, position of, in Church of Rome, 77. 

Friendship, value of, 122. 

Future life, reality of, 208. 

Gentleness to be combined with sternness in dealing with men, 85. 

Gilead described, 15. 

Giving increases getting, 49. 

God's care of the widow, 51. 

care of his church, in maintaining a succession of teachers, 138, 


claim on men established in connection with sacrifice, 96-98. 

delay to help, reason of, 50. 

God served by patience in retirement as well as by activity in public life, 

26, 27. 
God's training of his servants, manner of, 14, 20, 21, 66-68. 
Growth of sin insidious, 19, 20. 
Good man, value of, to his country, 192. 
Good men sometimes found in unexpected places, 75-77. 

Hall, Bishop, quoted from, 45, 167. 

Hamilton, Bishop, referred to, 104. 

Happiness consists not in getting, but in being, 154. 

Havelock, General, and his son, anecdote of, 39, 40. 

Heart, the, chooses its own God, 94, 95. 

Holy Spirit, relation of the work of, to that of Christ, 113, 114, 

Homeless poor, the lines on, by Miss Procter, 81. 

Honor put by God on industry in daily life, 139. 

Horeb, Elijah's vision at, 129. 

Hymn by George Neumarck, story of, 36. 

Hyslop's " Cameronian's Dream," quotation from, 184. 

Digitized by 


214 Index. 

Ill-gotten gains, curse of, i6i. 

Impossibility of combining the services of God and mammon, 95, 96. 
Indecision, causes of, 98, 99 ; danger of, 100. 
Isolation, danger of, 122. 

Israel, condition of, under Ahab, 7 ; character of the people, 12, 91 ; peo- 
ple of, gathered on Carmel, 90 ; Elijah's appeal to people of, 91. 

Jamieson's " Commentary," quoted from, 70, 91. 

" Eastern Manners, illustrative of the Old Testament," quoted 

from, 135. 

Jebel-Mar-Elias, 89. 

Jeroboam, guilt of, as distinguished from Ahab's, 8, 9. 

Jezebel, character of, 11 ; rage of, after the sacrifice on Carmel, 116 ; un- 
dertakes to obtain Naboth's vineyard for Ahab, 150; unscrupulous- 
ness of the measures employed by, on that occasion, 150; punish- 
ment of, for that and other crimes, 153. 

Josephus quoted from, 11. 

Juniper- tree, 117. 

Kelt, Wady, described, 25. 

Kishon, modem name of, connected with the history of Elijah, 89. 
Kitto's " Bible Illustrations," quoted from, or referred to, 30, 39, 71, 109. 
" Encyclopaedia," edited by Dr. W. L. Alexander, referred to, 25, 

Knowledge of the right sometimes employed in an endeavor to defeat 

the right, 157, 15a 
Knox, John, sternness of, vindicated, 21 ; home life of, 54, 55. 
Krummacher's " Elijah the Tishbite," quoted from, 35. 

Laws of nature the means by which God answers prayer, no. 
Leighton, Archbishop, position of, referred to, 77. 
Life's end like the life that ends, 188. 

Luther, Martin, home life of, 54 ; saying of to Melancthon, 126. 
Lyddon's, Canon, " Some Elements of Religious Thought," quoted from, 

M*Crie's "Life of Knox" referred to, 55. 

MacDuflTs " Prophet of Fire " referred to, 47. 

Mantle, casting of, by Elijah on Elisha, 135, 136. 

Marriage, importance of, 157. 

Maurice's, Rev. F. D., "The Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament," 

referred to, 7, 10. 
Meal, miracle of the unfailing, 38. 
Milkman, usefulness of a, 47. 
Milton, John, sonnet of, on his blindness, 27. 
Ministry of the Gospel, honor of the, 140 ; importance of training for the. 

Digitized by 


Index. 215 

142, 143 ; difference of, from that of Elijah, 176; power of, depends 

on the minister's faith in the invisible, 190. 
Miracles of Elijah contrasted with those of Christ, 60. 
Moderates of the Scottish Church referred to, 77. 
Moses and Elijah glorified by Christ, 204, 205 ; lead up to Christ, 205. 

Naboth refuses to sell his vineyard to Ahab, 148, 149 ; is unjustly ac- 
cused and put to death by Jezebel, 150. 
Nahr-el-Mokatta, the river of slaughter, 89. 
Natural and supernatural equally related to God, 52, 53. 
Neumarck, George, hymn of, 36. 

Obadiah, kindness of, to the sons of the prophets, 72 ; character of, 73 ; 

meeting of, with Elijah, 73 ; position of, in Ahab's household, lessons 

from, 75-80. 
Oil, miracle of the, 38. 
Omri, character of, 7. 
One man, power of, when God is with him, 22. 

Pentecost, relation of, to the cross, 114 ; power of, 191. 

Piety revealed by the resort of the soul in trouble, 66 ; may be met in 
unexpected places, 76-78 ; is endangered more by ease than by diffi- 
culty, 79, 80. 

Plowing at Abel-meholali described, 134. 

Poor, homeless, lines on the, by Miss Procter, 81. 

Prayer the complement of promise, 104 ; a work producing exhaustion, 
104 ; should have a definite object, 105 ; should look for an answer, 
106 ; should be importunate, 108 ; is answered through the usual 
operations of the laws of nature, 109 ; relation of to preaching, 1 14 ; 
answers to, not mere coincidences, 1 10. 

Price of sin, the, 159. 

Priests of Baal cutting themselves on Carmel, 92 ; frantic doings of, typ- 
ical of the vain efforts of men to find God, 97 ; put to death by Eli- 
jah, 94, 101-103. 

Principles of benevolence, 83. 

Procter, Miss A. A., quoted from, 81. 

Prosperity, unbroken, not good for a man, 64. 

Providence of God, minuteness of, 45, 46 ; the unexpected happens in, 
62 ; discipline in, 67. 

Ravens feeding Elijah, 29 ; reasons for holding by the received opinion 

regarding, 30, 31. 
Reformers vindicated from modem objections, 21 ; often characterized 

by tenderness as well as strength, 54. 
Rejection of God punished, both under the Gospel and the law, 172-175. 
Resurrection of Christ, relation of, to the raising of the widow's son, 59, 60. 

Digitized by 


2i6 Index. 

Retribution, certainty of, under God's government, 152, 153. 
Robertson's, Rev. F. W., sermons, referred to, 119, 126. 

Sacrifice of Elijah, relation of, to that of Christ, 96. 

Sailors and soldiers, piety among, 78. 

Saunders's, Frederick, " Evenings with the Sacred Poets," referred to, 37. 

Selfishness of the ungodly, 80. 

Self-prominence, evil of, 126. 

Selling one's self to work iniquity, 1^9, 160. 

Servant of God must deal with men according to their characters, 85. 

Shirley, Rev. W. W., quoted from, 10. 

Sidney, Sir Philip, an illustration of benevolence, 48. 

Sin, growth of, insidious, 18, 20 ; price of, 159. 

Sinners can not run away from God, 170. 

Slaughter of the priests of Baal vindicated, loi. 

Smith's •* Dictionary of the Bible," quoted from, 15, 32. 

Soldiers and sailors, piety of, 75. 

Solitude, value of, 27, 28. 

Special training needed for special work, 141. 

Spirit, double portion of Elijah's, meaning of, 183. 

Stanley, Dean, quoted from, 41, 55. 

Stevenson, Rev. W. F., quoted from, 37. 

Sunday Magazine^ incident from, 47. 

Taylor, Isaac, referred to, 112. 

Tell-el-Kusis, hill of the priests, 89. 

Temporal things provided by God as well as spiritual, 34. 

Tenderness of God, 127, 162, 176. 

Tennyson, Alfred, quoted from, 28, 56. 

Theological seminaries, importance of, 187. 

Thomson's, W. M., D.D., ** The Land and the Book," quoted from, 41, 
58, 112. 

Transfiguration, the, exceptional in the history of Christ, 195, 196 ; rela- 
tion of, to Christ's previous conversation with his disciples, 196, 197 ; 
central truth of, 199. 

Trial a training for triumphf 66-68. 

Ungodly, selfishness of the, 80, 81 ; blindness of the, 84- 
Unsettlements in life to be expected, 61, 62 ; reveal us to ourselves, 63 ; 

give us a new errand to the throne of grace, 65 ; lead us ultimately to 

stronger confidence in God, 66. 
Urgency of decision for God, 98, 99. 

Van-Lennep's, Dr. H. J., " Bible Lands," quoted from, 93. 
Vindication of the slaughter of the priests of Baal, loi. 
of the Reformers for their sternness, 21. 

Digitized by 


Index. 217 

Wady Kelt described, 25. 

Waiting, a service of God equally with working, 26. 

Widow, God's care for the, 51. 

Widow of Zarephath, distress of, 44;- faith of, 43, 45 ; why selected to re- 
ceive Elijah, 43 ; son of, an object of interest to Elijah, 54 ; death of 
son, 56 ; elements of mystery in trial of, 57 ; resurrection of son, 58, 
59 ; result on, of this discipline, 66 ; leaving of, by Elijah, 70. 

Wilberforce's, Bishop, " Heroes of Hebrew History," quoted from, 13, 20. 

Wisdom needed for the winning of souls, 85. 

Work for God, not rendered impossible by the smallness of our re- 
sources, 47 ; should take precedence of our care for ourselves, 48 ; re- 
warded by God, 49 ; we must not cherish exaggerated expectations 
as to results of, 123. 

Workman, the, ready when his work is to be done, 21. 

Zarephath, description of, 41 ; why Elijah was sent to, 41, 43 ; widow 
of, sele'cted to receive Elijah, 43. 



Digitized by 


Digitized by 





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The attention of gentlemen, in town or country, designing to form 
Libraries or enrich their Literary Collections, is respectfully invited 
to Harper's Catalogue, which will be found to comprise a large pro- 
portion of the standard and most esteemed works in English and 
Classical Literature — comprehending over three thousand 
VOLUMES — which are offered, in most instances, at less than one- 
half the cost of similar productions in England. 

To librarians and others connected with Colleges, Schools, &c, 
who may not have access to a trustworthy guide in forming the true 
estimate of literary productions, it is believed this •Catalogue will 
prove especially valuable for reference. 

To prevent disappointment, it is suggested that, whenever books 
can not be obtained through any boqjcseller or local agent, applica* 
tions with remittance should be addressed direct to Harper 6t 
Brothers, which will receive prompt attention. 

Sent by mail on receipt of Ten Cents, 


Franklin Square^ New Yorx. 

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